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Restaurant workers most often exposed to sexual harassment

It’s possible for employees to experience sexual harassment in any profession. However, some jobs in Minnesota and other states may contribute to a higher rate of sexual harassment than other fields. An employee can be victimized by a supervisor, other coworkers and even clients and customers. If dressing or behaving in a certain way is encouraged by employers to generate more business, but results in a hostile working environment, this may also be defined as sexual harassment.

A recent study conducted by Forward Together and numerous employee advocacy groups revealed that people who work in the restaurant industry are more likely to experience sexual harassment than any other type of job. In the study, 80 percent of female employees said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment while working.

Common types of sexual harassment carried out by customers and other employees can include:

  • Lewd comments, jokes or sexual teasing
  • Suggestive gestures or looks
  • Pressure for dates or getting together after work
  • Deliberate and unwanted touching or attempts to touch

In the study, some participants revealed that female employees were required by their employers to wear different uniforms than male workers, and even asked to “dress sexy.” Different, more revealing uniforms appeared to double the rates at which women were sexually harassed. It is believed that this type of harassment is also encouraged by America’s tipping culture. Some customers may feel it is their right to make advances on their server to “earn” a tip, while servers may feel uncomfortable asking the customer to stop, either afraid they will not receive a tip or will be reprimanded by their bosses for driving away business.

Source: Medical Daily, "Tipping And Sexual Harassment: Restaurant Industry May See Highest Rates Due To Cash Constraints," Dana Dovey, Oct. 8, 2014

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