The hospitality and food industries have thrived in Florida due to tourism and population growth. While you may find working in a restaurant to be a fun, challenging and rewarding job, some parts of the job are not as pleasant. This is especially true of sexual harassment at work.
What is harassment?
Sexual harassment can take different forms. Unwanted comments, implied lewd suggestions and even unwelcome touching are common behaviors that you and other restaurant workers might put up with on a regular basis. Sexual harassment is more prevalent among servers and other restaurant workers than you might think.
Sexual harassment is common in the food industry
According to a 2014 study announced by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, 90 percent of food service workers – male and female – admitted they had encountered sexual harassment on the job. However, just because this happens often in the industry does not mean it is normal or acceptable.
Understanding workplace sexual harassment
It can be confusing to recognize sexual harassment for what it is. Often, those who perpetuate this behavior start off with something small and innocuous, gradually increasing the behavior until you are not sure if what you are experiencing is acceptable or normal.
A customer, co-worker or manager might say something inappropriate or touch you without your permission, making you feel uncomfortable or threatened. It is important to understand that sexual harassment is not the same as mutual flirting.
You have the right to set limits
Like many other restaurant workers, you might also feel as if you will lose your job or face disciplinary action if you refuse to accept inappropriate behavior. Your managers might even tell you that you must deal with unwanted advances from your customers as a condition of the job.
However, workplace sexual harassment is illegal, and you have the right to report any unwanted behavior to your superiors without fear of reprisal. You may also need the help of an employment attorney.