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Tipped restaurant workers frequently sexually harassed

Women in Indiana and the rest of the nation who work in the restaurant industry are exposed to a rampant amount of sexual harassment, according to a report issued by a restaurant workers' group on Oct. 7. The problem is especially bad in states where tipped employees are paid the federal minimum wage of $2.13.

From May through August, nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Center worked with several workers' and women's rights organizations to conduct online and in-person interviews with 688 restaurant employees in 39 states. The resulting data showed that 90 percent of women who work for tips in restaurants report sexual harassment. The report said that one-third of the women were harassed by customers on a weekly basis, two-thirds were harassed by restaurant management on a monthly basis and three-quarters were harassed by co-workers at least once a month.

The study also found that women working for tips in states with a $2.13 minimum wage are typically twice as likely to experience sexual harassment as women employed in states that implement the full minimum wage of $7.25. Women working for the $2.13 wage were also three times more likely to be told by managers to dress more provocatively on the job than women employed at the full minimum wage.

The survey indicated that men working for tips were not immune to sexual harassment. Fifty percent of surveyed male workers reported being harassed by a supervisor or owner while at work.

Sexual harassment can happen to people of all genders and sexual orientations. Types of sexual harassment can include unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate sexual comments, email and text messages of a sexual nature and requests for sexual favors. If a worker believes they are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, they may wish to consult with an attorney.

Source: USA Today, "Group: Sexual harassment rife in restaurants", Bruce Horovitz, October 07, 2014

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