Learn how restaurant workers, bartenders, and hotel employees often face sexual harassment at work – and what they can do about it.

Sexual Harassment Runs Rampant in the Hospitality Industry, Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry

When you work in the hospitality industry, you may depend on tips to survive. You certainly depend on increased business to maintain your job. Therefore, you are encouraged to go above and beyond for your customers.

However, going above and beyond for your customers should not include accepting sexual harassment as part of your job requirements. You should not have to flirt with customers, engage in sexual acts with customers, or accept their sexually perverse comments and actions just so you can get a tip and keep your job.

However, the Restaurant industry has not caught up with the laws. Many restaurants, hotels, and bars employers will ask their employees to give in to a customer’s advances to earn repeat customers. You have a right to say “no.” More importantly, you have a right to expect your employer to protect your rights against workplace sexual harassment in the hospitality industry.

What Are Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Hospitality Industry?

In the hospitality industry, there are many ways sexual harassment can occur. Furthermore, sexual harassment often occurs from managers and owners, coworkers, or even customers. Some examples of hospitality sexual harassment may include the following incidents:

1. You work as a housekeeper in an exclusive NYC or LA hotel. The hotel sees the likes of many celebrities and some of the richest people in the world.

One client spends a lot of money and time at your hotel. They see you in the hallway and decide to wait in their room until you come by to clean. They proposition you for a sexual favor, offering you over $1,000 tip for the week if you comply.

You deny their advances. They complain to management and threaten to leave a horrific hotel review and take their business elsewhere. Your boss tells you that if you do not comply, you will lose your job. You refuse the advances again and get fired from work.

2. You are a waiter in a chain restaurant in Philadelphia. The restaurant is in the heart of downtown Philadelphia and caters to tourists and young people. You are used to a little harmless flirting here and there. However, you draw the line on anyone trying to touch you or force you into an uncomfortable situation.

A customer grabs your butt. You let him know, very sternly, that you are not there for him to touch. He does not stop touching you. You tell your manager about the customer.

Your manager tells you to go home for the night and apologizes to the customer for your behavior. You lose the tip from that table and other tips you would have received that night.

3. You are a bartender. A regular comes into the bar and insists you serve her. You serve her and begin to speak with her. She reaches in and grabs you for a kiss.

You push her away and tell her that you are not interested. She does not stop her actions. She tries to lean in and kiss you again. This time, you move out of the way.

Feeling humiliated, she complains to management that you were rude and said horrible things to her (none of these allegations are true). Your manager asks you to take a break. However, he then fires you for your behavior.

4. You and your coworkers go to a party at one coworker’s apartment. One of the chefs from the restaurant corners you and begins to caress your shoulders. He leans in to kiss you. You back away and tell him you are not interested.

The next day at work, he makes sure to mess up every order you put in that he works on. As a result, your customers complain, and you get sent home. You lose tips and the rest of the day’s pay.

Why Is Sexual Harassment Common in the Hospitality Industry?

The hospitality industry is notorious for advertising the idea that sex sells. People within the Restaurant industry understand that their business is people, and they must make customers happy to ensure they visit one place over another.

This philosophy often goes to the head of employers, managers, and even customers. Many people on the front lines in restaurants, bars, and even hotels, are young people that may not have a problem getting a little flirty with customers or each other. However, flirting often gets taken too far, leading to a culture ripe with sexual harassment and assault.

Since employers want customers to keep coming back, they may even encourage some actions to make their employees feel uncomfortable. By setting the example of accepting sexual harassment as part of the job, they create an environment where people feel they may not have an option except to put up with sexual harassment from everyone within the industry.

What Can You Do to Fight Sexual Harassment in the Hospitality Industry?

Even though people may believe sexual harassment in hospitality is acceptable, the law says otherwise. Federal and state laws prohibit sexual harassment in any workplace, including wrongful termination and retaliation. Therefore, you have a right to fight sexual harassment in your workplace within the hospitality industry.

You can first complain to your employer about any sexual harassment you may suffer. However, when your employer ignores your complaint, you have the right to contact a sexual harassment lawyer in your state.

Your sexual harassment lawyer can help you fight for the justice and compensation you deserve. They can help you file your complaint and ensure your case gets its day in court.

What Is Sexual Harassment at Work?

No matter where you work, sexual harassment is any form of unwanted sexual comments, physical contact, or requests for sexual favors that can create a hostile work environment or prevent you from conducting your duties on the job. Workplace sexual harassment comes in many forms, including employer sexual harassment, CEO sexual harassment, supervisor or manager sexual harassment, coworker sexual harassment, customer sexual harassment, or nonemployee sexual harassment.

It is your employer’s responsibility to protect you from all forms of sexual harassment in the workplace. They must address any issues of unwanted sexual advances or comments, no matter who creates the problem. Therefore, when it comes to sexual harassment, the customer is not always right.

If You’ve Suffered Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, Contact the Derek Smith Law Group.

You have a right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment, even if you work in the hospitality industry (Restaurant industry). If your employer denies you this right, you have the right to fight for justice. The sexual harassment lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group in New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami, San Diego, San Fransico, and Los Angeles can help. Call us at 800.807.2209 for a free consultation.

About Derek Smith

Attorney Derek T. Smith is an experienced sexual harassment & discrimination law litigator who has particular experience in the areas of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, civil rights litigation, employment law and civil litigation.

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