Working as a server in a busy restaurant is challenging and rewarding. Smiling and staying pleasant are part of the job, but those might be tested by more than just the pressures of a fast-paced environment. Sexual harassment from customers can cast a long shadow over the experience of many servers.
Sexual harassment is so widespread that more than 70% of female service workers in restaurants report being sexually harassed at work. This includes guests crossing boundaries, making unsolicited comments or exhibiting outright discriminatory behavior. It’s a stark reminder that, despite advancements in workplace protections, specific industries aren’t safeguarding employees.
Sexual harassment is a plague
For many servers, dealing with sexual harassment is an unwelcome part of the job. These incidents can be verbal, like suggestive comments or invasive questions about their personal lives, or physical, such as unwarranted touching or gesturing.
Harassment can create a hostile work environment that leads to increased stress, anxiety and psychological trauma. The situation is often compounded by the fact that servers may feel compelled to tolerate inappropriate behavior to avoid jeopardizing the tips that make up a significant portion of their income.
Combating the issue
Addressing sexual harassment requires a concerted effort from all levels of the restaurant industry. management must create and enforce strong policies that protect employees from guest misconduct. This includes training staff on handling uncomfortable situations, establishing precise reporting mechanisms and ensuring no negative repercussions for servers who speak out.
The restaurant management shouldn’t have any issue with removing a guest that’s harassing a server. This is one case when the customer isn’t right. Servers who are subjected to sexual harassment from anyone while they’re working should be able to count on their management to address the matter swiftly and seriously. If that doesn’t happen, they may need to look to other legal options.