A report on sexual harassment in restaurants, issued by a pair of advocacy organizations, indicates that a substantial number of restaurant workers experience sexual harassment on the job. The numbers are higher for female restaurant workers, especially servers, but they are alarmingly high for men as well. Restaurant workers reportedly account for 37 percent of all sexual harassment claims received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Tipped workers, including restaurant servers, are subject to different federal and state minimum wage laws. Since servers generally rely on tips for their income, many feel compelled to endure workplace harassment for fear of losing their livelihood.
The Restaurant Opportunities Center United is a nonprofit organization that advocates for “improve[d] wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce.” Forward Together describes its mission as “ensur[ing] that women, youth and families have the power and resources they need to reach their full potential.” The two organizations issued a report entitled “The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry” (the “Report”) (PDF file) on October 7, 2014. The report analyzes data collected from 688 people in 39 states who work or have worked in the restaurant industry.
Overall, respondents reported sexual harassment by managers (66%), co-workers (80%), and customers (78%). The report breaks down various complaints by gender, including female, male, and transgender respondents. Sexual harassment was described as “an uncomfortable aspect of work life” by 60 percent of female and transgender respondents, and 46 percent of male respondents. Report at 2. “‘Scary’ or ‘unwanted’ sexual behavior” was reported by 60 percent of transgender respondents, 50 percent of female respondents, and 47 percent of male respondents. Id.