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Sexual harassment of restaurant employees

Those who work in the service industry in California may feel frustrated when they deal with unwanted sexual behavior, especially those who depend on tips for the majority of their income. Restaurant workers in the state benefit from the fact that tipped employees are paid a higher minimum wage than the $2.13 base wage allowed in many states for those who earn tips. However, sexual harassment is a serious concern for those who are affected regardless of their wages.

A study conducted by Restaurant Opportunities Center United indicates that sexual harassment is more common for those receiving lower base pay while relying on tips to round out their earnings. In fact, women in these states tend to be harassed twice as much as those who live in states in which tipped workers earn the same minimum wage as others.

Of the nearly 700 people interviewed for the study, more than 50 percent of the men and 66 percent of the women responding noted that sexual harassment from managers was an issue. Harassment from coworkers and customers was even higher for both groups. In some cases, women in low-paying states noted that managers encouraged them to wear more provocative clothing. Some also suggested that management encouraged them to go along with offensive behavior from customers.

Workers may be reluctant to report sexual harassment from coworkers or managers due to the potential backlash that could result. However, it is important to remember that such behavior is illegal and that one's rights are protected by law. In dealing with a harassment situation, an employee might want to document incidents involving a superior. It may also be helpful to discuss the situation with legal counsel to identify possible steps to take in putting an end to unwanted advances.

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