Why Is Sexual Harassment so Prevalent?
Sexual harassment is more prevalent in the restaurant industry than any other industry. Statistics show that 90% of women and 70% of men working in the restaurant industry reported they had experienced some form of sexual harassment.
What Factors Make Restaurants Prone to Sexual Harassment?
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) indicated that the following factors make employees in the hospitality industry more susceptible to sexual harassment:
- Women make up 71% of restaurant servers
- Men make up the majority of restaurant management
- Typical servers are young females
- Women are in lower pay and lower status jobs
- Due to lower status, women do not feel comfortable confronting others about inappropriate behavior
- The employee turnover rate is high — 70% annually
- The customer is always right mentality enables customers to sexually harass employees
- States with tip systems experienced more sexual harassment than states that had minimum wages
- Restaurants had strict grooming, and uniform rules and were focused on “looks”
According to an HBR study, where 162 managers from hotel and lodging departments participated, managers perceived sexual harassment as less negative when done by a customer than by an employee.
A study done on 76 females in the restaurant industry over a three-month period revealed that there were 226 incidents of sexual harassment, which broke down as follows:
- 112 incidents involved co-workers
- 29 involved a manager
- 85 involved customers
The nature of the harassment included:
- Telling suggestive, sexual stories (49%)
- Making offensive remarks (46%)
- Making crude sexual remarks (45%)
- Making sexist comments (42%)
- Attempting to discuss sex. (33%)
Servers rarely complained to their managers even though most of them felt uncomfortable and threatened. The reason they didn’t report it was due to fear of retaliation. As a result, both men and women working in the industry have, to a degree, normalized sexual harassment.
Stephen Hans & Associates provides extensive legal experience to business owners regarding employment related issues.