Restaurant Law Blog

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Restaurant Workers Plagued With Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual propositions, gestures and language and is a problem in almost every industry.  The restaurant industry is particularly susceptible to these types of problems.  This industry employs a large number of people, many of which are paid at or below minimum wage.  Tipped workers are often paid a fraction of minimum wage as tips are supposed to make up the rest of their salary.  Although many state minimum wage laws dictate payment above these levels, Federal minimum wage for untipped workers is $7.25 while for tipped workers it is $2.13.

There has been a push at the Federal and state level to raise the wages of tipped restaurant workers either by paying them the same as untipped workers or raising the minimum wage altogether. A new study, put out by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United and called "The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry", has provided further inspiration for these legislative changes.  The study, done this year, involved almost 700 restaurant workers from 39 states and shows that sexual harassment in the restaurant industry is occurring at a shocking rate. Many of the workers were from states where there was a gap in the minimum wage between tipped and untipped workers.  

While females are affected by sexual harassment more frequently, men are also subjected to it.  Tipped female workers were found to be harassed the most as they are required to do certain things that make them the targets of harassment by customers and other employees.  The study showed that two-thirds of women in the restaurant industry were sexually harassed by their superiors while three quarters of them were harassed by other employees on a monthly basis.  It also showed that one-third of women were harassed by customers on a weekly basis.  High numbers of men and women were sexually harassed by their higher-ups, but, women working for the Federal minimum wage of $2.13 per hour were harassed almost two times as much as those receiving the $7.25 hourly rate.

If you are a restaurant owner or operator and are having issues with sexual harassment at your establishment, you should consult with an experienced attorney today.  Contact the New York restaurant lawyers at the DiPasquale Law Group by calling (646) 383-4607.

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