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Why Is Sexual Harassment Common in the Restaurant Industry?

Our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyers Explain This National Issue

Service workers have some of the hardest jobs imaginable. Many put up with rude customers, poor tippers, long hours, difficult work and sexual harassment. In the restaurant industry, sexual harassment is extremely common among servers, bartenders, cooks and supervisors. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, more sexual harassment claims are filed in the restaurant industry than any other line of work. Between 1995 and 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received more than 170,000 sexual harassment claims. Women filed 83 percent of these claims. With the #MeToo movement in full-swing for the past two years, the restaurant industry is under the spotlight

Workers in this industry are often exposed to customers who may have been drinking and who have a reduced capacity to control their actions. Dress requirements may also lead to instances of sexual harassment depending on the establishment. Specifically, the dress code and nature of the establishment may encourage sexual harassment or sexual assault.  

Types of Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry

The same types of sexual harassment that occur in other industries also occur in the restaurant industry. California law recognizes two forms of sexual harassment

The first type has to do with the hostile work environment that occurs when harassing conduct because of your gender sufficiently offends, humiliates, distresses or intrudes upon you so as to disrupt your emotional tranquility in the workplace, affect your ability to perform the job as usual or otherwise interfere with and undermine your personal sense of well-being. 

Quid pro quo, also called “this for that”, is where someone in a position of power, such as your supervisor, offers you some type of benefit in exchange for sexual advances or favors. Both forms of harassment are illegal under state and federal laws. 

Legal Options for Sexual Harassment in Restaurants

Workers have options if they are facing sexual harassment on the job. Federal and state laws require your employer to respond to sexual harassment complaints. This is true whether your coworkers, patrons, clients or vendors are guilty. The bottom line is that your employer must investigate the allegations and take necessary action to stop the harassment and otherwise resolve your situation. 

If your employer ignores your complaint outright, then you may have legal options. You should consult an experienced sexual harassment lawyer to determine if you should file a harassment claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Most California workers who are employed by companies based in our state will file with the DFEH. California laws are much more employee-friendly in how they define sexual harassment and discrimination. 

These agencies may choose to investigate the matter further and could issue a right to sue notice. However, you do not need a right to sue notice to pursue legal options against your employer. This is why it helps to have an attorney before you file a formal complaint with the DFEH or EEOC. 

You should contact an attorney before or after filing your claim. Keep in mind, some employers may try to retaliate against you for filing a complaint, even if the complaint is internal and not with a state or federal regulator. An attorney can help you deal with retaliation if it happens. Retaliation is illegal under federal and state laws. 

Contact Our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyers for More Information

If you experienced sexual harassment while working in a service job and want to explore your legal options, then you should speak with an experienced attorney. Contact the Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers at Yadegar, Minoofar & Soleymani LLP to learn more about potential options for filing a lawsuit. 

We take cases in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. You can schedule a free evaluation with an attorney at our firm by dialing (310) 499-0140 or by using the contact form on our site