Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry

Posted by Sessions & Kimball |

Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry is a serious problem. Unfortunately, many men and women who work in restaurants are subject to sexual harassment on a regular basis. This can include unwanted sexual advances, comments or jokes of a sexual nature, and even physical touching. This comes from both employers, co-workers, and patrons. If you have experienced sexual harassment while working in a restaurant, you may be wondering what your legal options are. Contact our experienced sexual harassment lawyers to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.

What Qualifies as Sexual Harassment? 

The legal definition of sexual harassment generally includes any unwelcome sexual advances or conduct that creates a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment can also be on a quid pro quo basis. In a quid pro quo situation, the employer, or someone in a supervisory position or who has power over another employee, offers them something in exchange for sexual favors. This could be a promotion, a raise, or another form of job security. It could also be a requirement that the victim engage in some sort of behavior or there is a threat of an adverse employment action.

Are Restaurant Employees Protected?

Sexual harassment laws protect all employees, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics. Protections apply to all workers, including part time and volunteers. In most cases, employers are liable for the actions of their employees, so it is important for companies to have policies and procedures in place to prevent and address sexual harassment. 

Employers can even be liable for their employees being sexually harassed by customers and those who are not employed at the restaurant, depending on the circumstances. For example, if you’re being harassed by a customer who frequently comes into your restaurant and your employer sees it but does nothing about it, the employer could be legally responsible. 

Examples of Sexual Harassment in Restaurants

The restaurant industry has one of the highest rates of sexual harassment reports. This includes harassment by patrons as well as employees. In fact, nearly 70% of women who work in restaurants said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment. Some examples of sexual harassment in the restaurant industry include:

  • Being groped or touched without consent
  • Inappropriate comments or jokes about someone’s body or sex life
  • Requesting sexual favors in exchange for continued employment or a promotion
  • Leering or staring at someone in a sexually suggestive manner 
  • Making demeaning or sexual comments about someone’s clothing or appearance  

While many people think of sexual harassment as something that happens between co-workers, patron-to-employee harassment is also prevalent in the restaurant industry. Not only is it prevalent, but it can also have a profound impact on victims. In addition to the obvious emotional toll, victims may also suffer financially if they are forced to take time off work or change jobs as a result of the harassment. They may also struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

What To Do If You Have Experienced Sexual Harassment at Your Restaurant

If you have been sexually harassed at work, there are legal remedies available to you. You may be able to file a claim with the EEOC or file a lawsuit against your employer. An experienced workplace sexual harassment attorney can help you understand your rights and options and fight for the compensation you deserve. 

If you need help, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.