Articles Posted in Wage and Hour

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.
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Fashion plays a prominent role in the cultural identity of New York and cities like Paris, London, and Tokyo. People come to New York City from all over the world every year for Fashion Week, and aspiring models arrive in the city almost every day. Issues faced by models in New York and elsewhere have received an increasing amount of attention in recent years, such as sexual harassment, wage and hour violations, and discrimination. Models are beginning to stand up for the rights under New York and federal employment laws, but many problems persist. Several models, both current and former, have spoken to the media recently about various issues of concern.

Sexual Harassment in the Fashion Industry

Jennifer Sky became a model at the age of fourteen, and left the industry at seventeen. She later became an actress, and is now an advocate for models’ rights in the workplace. A recently-published short memoir recounts her experience as a sixteen year-old model in Tokyo. She also discussed her experiences in the modeling business and her current concerns in several media interviews.

An excerpt from the memoir published by Buzzfeed describes some inappropriate situations in which she found herself while working abroad. This included inappropriate sexual overtures and conduct, made more inappropriate, even illegal, by the models’ young age. She discusses the power dynamic between young models and older photographers, which often makes models afraid to speak out about harassment and abuse.
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