Over 70% Of Female Restaurant Employees Have Been Sexually Harassed

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Researchers are sharing the staggering statistics from a recent nationwide study, proving that the overwhelming majority of women restaurant workers have experienced sexual harassment at work

In today’s edition of “water is wet,” people continue to treat restaurant workers absolutely terribly, as if low wages, poor working conditions, and disrespectful customers aren’t enough to deal with. Two recent studies have shown how alarmingly common it is for women restaurant workers to experience sexual harassment on the job, with half reporting they’re harassed on a weekly basis, and 71 percent sharing that it’s happened to them at least once while at work.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame, Penn State University, and the Emlyon Business School in France teamed up to determine just how and why sexual harassment and abuse is so prevalent in the restaurant industry, following up on a study released by Social Science

Research Solutions (SRSS) in January, confirming that 71 percent of women restaurant workers have been harassed on the clock — and while the harassment is most often at the hands of customers, supervisors, managers, and restaurant owners subject them to it, too.

By conducting two separate studies, the researchers found that two common practices in the U.S. restaurant industry — “service with a smile” and a reliance on tips — lead to a culture of harassment, due to the power dynamic that exists between servers and those being served.

“Service employee dependence on tips and requirements for friendly displays lead customers to experience a heightened sense of power — which can lead them to engage in sexual harassment,” said Timothy Kundro, a professor at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, in a press release. “We show it’s really the joint effects of customer tipping and requirements for positive gestures that drive sexual harassment. When either isn’t present, customers don’t feel the same sense of power.”

In the first study, 92 full-time service employees were asked to report the percentage of their income dependent on tips along with whether or not they’re encouraged to maintain friendly, positive interactions with customers. In the second, 229 men were given an “online experiment” in which researchers analyzed their behavior situations where they would need to tip and interact with women servers.

Surprise, surprise: Men felt empowered to treat women servers like shit, especially during situations that encouraged tipping.

As for how the problem can be solved, according to the researchers? Well, in today’s edition of “the sky is blue,” paying servers a living wage so they don’t have to rely on tips to survive and/or removing the “service with a smile” bullshit is the key factor. “Our research shows that paying a fair wage or eliminating tipping practices can reduce the power differential between a service worker and an employee,” said Kundro. “Alternatively, organizations can also reduce or eliminate positive display requirements.”

The TL:DR — men continue to be The Worst, and the absolute bare minimum that service employees deserve is to go to work without facing harassment and abuse.