Sexual harassment is a problem across virtually all industries, but female workers in certain fields may be experiencing it at higher rates than those in others. According to Eater, 40 percent of American women who work within the fast food industry experience on-the-job sexual harassment, and these unwanted advances are having considerable negative impacts that extend far beyond the workplace.
In 2016, a research firm surveyed more than 1,200 women over the age of 16 who worked at fast food restaurants about the prevalence of the sexual harassment problem, and with alarming results. Of those women surveyed, one in eight reported they experienced unwelcome sexual attention or advances while at work, but many also reported feeling trapped in their positions and unable to leave, despite the mistreatment. More than 40 percent of women surveyed reported feeling as if they had to “put up” with the harassment, or fear termination.
Common forms of sexual harassment at fast food restaurants
As a female working at a fast food restaurant, you may experience sexual harassment in a variety of forms. Some of the women surveyed reported instances of improper touching, or lewd or inappropriate jokes or comments about sexual orientation. Others reported they experienced unwanted teasing and even kissing while on the job, with nearly 30 percent of survey participants reporting experiencing these behaviors on multiple occasions.
Effects of sexual harassment in the workplace
In addition to creating a hostile work environment, sexual harassment can affect you long after you clock out for the day. Many of the female fast food workers surveyed reported having difficulty sleeping because of the sexual harassment at work, while others noted they suffered depression, anxiety and loss of appetite because of the unwelcome treatment.
As an employee in the U.S., you have certain rights, including the right to a harassment-free work environment. If you are experiencing unwanted sexual attention while at work, you may want to consult with a lawyer who can help.