Despite major advancements in gender equality in the workforce, women in low-wage jobs are still some of the biggest targets for sexual harassment. In particular, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that the restaurant industry is a hotbed of sex harassment claims and gender discrimination.

Nearly 37 percent of all sexual harassment charges filed by women with the EEOC come from the restaurant industry – more than five times the rate for the general female workforce. The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) reviewed four years’ worth of EEOC sexual harassment claims and the results were shocking. Most of the charges were against well-known chains, such as McDonald’s, KFC, and Applebee’s, and not small mom-and-pop shops.

In addition, the ROC performed a survey of 4,300 restaurant employees. More than one in 10 workers reported they or a co-worker had been sexually harassment on the job. Sexual harassment can come from a supervisor, colleague, or even a customer. Your employer may be held legally responsible for harassment coming from a co-worker or customer if they knew about the harassment (or should have known about it) and did nothing to correct the behavior.

ROC conducted interviews nationwide, establishing that female hospitality workers found sexual harassment “accepted… part of the culture.” One worker said, “It’s inevitable. If it’s not verbal assault, someone wants to rub up against you.”

Recently, the Derek Smith Law Group obtained a $2.5 million verdict on behalf of a female bartender in New York City who has harassed and assaulted by her male boss. The Derek Smith Law Group also garnered a $1.5 million verdict for a chef who endured harassment and sexual orientation discrimination. Even in a city as evolved as New York, restaurant workers still face abuse, torment, and assault at work.

The Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC handles a multitude of cases that involve sexual harassment in New York City. For further information, please feel free to call us at 800-807-2209.