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Why is sexual harassment so common in restaurants?

As someone who makes a living working in a California restaurant, you may understand all too well just how common sexual harassment is within your particular line of work. If you work in a restaurant and are also female, African American or Latina, your chances of experiencing on-the-job sexual harassment in a restaurant setting are even higher.

According to USA Today, 40% of women working in restaurant settings report unwanted sexual attention or advancements on the job. Additionally, more than 14% of all sexual harassment claims reported across the nation come from the food service and hospitality sectors, highlighting just how much of a problem this form of harassment is industry-wide. Just what is it about working in restaurants that makes you more likely to be a victim of sexual harassment?

A male-dominated culture

Generally speaking, sexual harassment is more prevalent in industries where men tend to hold positions of power, and this is often the case in restaurant settings. While men frequently hold the reins at many high-end restaurants and eateries, men often hold managerial roles in chain restaurants, too. Sexual harassment is alarmingly common in both types of establishments.

Tight working quarters

Often, restaurants suffer from a lack of space in the kitchen and in other areas. When you cram lots of people together in small spaces, unwanted touching, whether intentional or otherwise, becomes increasingly likely.

Young staff members

The fact that many people who work in restaurants are young may contribute to the high incidence of sexual harassment in the food service industry. Young restaurant workers may not have much employment experience, meaning they may not fully understand what may constitute sexual harassment. Young managers, meanwhile, may not have much experiencing fielding sexual harassment complaints, and they may not know how to properly handle them.

While your chances of experiencing sexual harassment in a restaurant job are high, this does not mean that you have to accept this form of treatment as an unavoidable part of the job. On the contrary, holding harassers accountable for their actions can help prevent this behavior from continuing and affecting other colleagues.

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