A horrifying though sadly unsurprising report released today sheds light on rampant sexual harassment experienced by women in the service industry. The damning report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United and Forward Together discovered that 90% of female restaurant workers had experienced some form of sexual harassment from either a customer, co-worker or higher up at their place of employment—and for over half, they were sexually harassed on a weekly basis.
The report, called The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry, surveyed nearly 700 current or recent employees of restaurants and conducted focus groups in major US cities including New York and Washington DC. Through this research, it was revealed that women were twice as likely to experience at-work sexual harassment in states where servers are paid the $2.13 Federal minimum for tipped workers and that both men and women were likelier to experience harassment in states that used that minimum.
Perhaps even more disturbing is that women who were surveyed were often compelled by management to sexualize their actions but feared reprisal if they reported any sexual harassment from management or customers. Understandably, women who went through these experience "reported deterioration in their emotional well-being, including increased depression and anxiety" and were one and a half times more likely to "live with harassing behaviors" if they'd already worked in a tipping environment.
To any female who's worked in the service industry, this won't be a shock at all. Even a casual search of Gothamist's sexual harassment tag shows the unbridled culture of harassment that many women (and men) are subjected to on a daily basis. And those are just the cases that are reported. Not everyone is in a position to openly call out their harassers for fear of losing their jobs; but the less it's reported, the more empowered predators will feel to smack the asses of whomever they want. Abolishing tipping wouldn't hurt either.