If you reside in California and make your living working in a restaurant, you are in good company. For many, restaurants offer flexible hours, opportunities for advancement and other perks, but, as is the case with most industries, there is also a downside.
According to USA Today, restaurants and food service environments are hotbeds for sexual harassment. So much so, in fact, that more sexual harassment claims filed within a recent 10-year period came from the restaurant and food service sector than from any other industry. Additionally, sexual harassment claims filed by restaurant and food service workers accounted for 14 percent of all sexual harassment claims filed in the U.S. between 2005 and 2015. Just what is it about restaurant and hospitality environment that make sexual harassment so prevalent?
In many restaurant and food service settings, staff members tend to be young, and young workers typically have less work experience than their older colleagues. Therefore, they may not realize when their behavior crosses the line and becomes inappropriate or illegal. Additionally, many fast food settings employ young managers, and they may not fully understand what constitutes sexual harassment, which means they may not be able to properly train their workers about what they can and cannot do in the workplace.
A male-dominated industry
While many female workers make their living in various food service settings, men still tend to hold positions of power in restaurants more frequently than women. Additionally, in some cases, male chefs also own their eateries, and this can lead to an imbalance of power. Sexual harassment victims in such settings may hesitate to call attention to the harassing behavior, either because they fear losing their jobs, or because they fear retaliation in the workplace.
No matter where you work, you have a right to feel comfortable and at ease while earning your living. There is a clear need for change in today's restaurant culture, and calling attention to the problem is an important step in encouraging that change. If you have suffered illegal sexual harassment, you have legal options, including seeking compensation. Speak with an attorney if you have questions.