While workers in politics, media and tech have been at the center of the MeToo movement, countless workers in other industries have faced some form of sexual harassment.
Sadly, low-wage restaurant workers are some of the hardest-hit victims. That’s because there can be a significant power disparity between them, their supervisors and customers, as many have to rely on being a “good sport” to survive. In Texas, tipped servers only make $2.13 an hour. In many cases, this means tipped workers may have to endure sexual harassment from customers if they want to keep their jobs.
Some restaurants may turn a blind eye
High-profile chefs like Mario Batali, Ken Friedman and John Besh have all gotten reprimanded for their misconduct. However, their celebrity status may have helped their victims get more notice. But in most restaurants, managers may not pay attention to workers’ complaints if they don’t believe it will damage them or their business’s reputation.
As more than half of restaurant servers are women, some may also face gender discrimination from others who may not take their claims seriously.
Reporting sexual harassment cases in the foodservice industry
Depending on the circumstances, some servers may not feel like they can talk about their harassment claims with their employers. If that’s the case, they have other options available. Often, they can do so by taking their complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Here are a few ways they can reach them:
- File the claim online using the EEOC’s public portal system.
- Schedule an appointment with a local office.
- Calling a local or national commission representative.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for filing sexual harassment complaints is approximately six months.
Sexual harassment can decrease worker morale
Being in the foodservice industry can already come with many challenges. With low wages, and the stress of meeting deadlines and customer demands, falling victim to inexcusable sexual misconduct is the last thing these workers need. But by taking a legal stand against those who mistreat them, these workers can obtain the justice and equality they deserve.