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Confronting sexual harassment in New York restaurants

According to a report released on Oct. 7, 90 percent of all female workers who receive tips reported that they had been sexually harassed. The report was overseen by Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a group that says it is time to end the sub-minimum wage for restaurant workers. Currently, only seven states require tipped workers to be paid the same as workers who do not receive tips.

The findings resulted from a survey of 688 restaurant workers in 39 states that was conducted between May and August 2014. Among other results, women who worked for $2.13 an hour, which is the federal minimum wage for tipped workers, were twice as likely to be sexually harassed at work. Two-thirds of women working for the tipped minimum wage reported being harassed by managers at least once a month.

Another one-third of women working at the tipped minimum wage reported being harassed by customers on a weekly basis. While the majority of sexual harassment abuse victims were women, men experienced such behavior as well. Half of the men surveyed said that they had been the target of sexual harassment from a manager, supervisor or owner of a restaurant where they were employed.

Sexual harassment on the job is considered to be a serious offense. Employers who submit employees to sexual abuse of any kind may be creating a hostile working environment. This could result in legal action being taken against them. With the help of an employment law attorney, a victim may be awarded damages against their employer for sexual harassment. Additionally, those who may have been wrongfully terminated due to reporting such harassment may be awarded compensation for lost wages.

Source: USA Today, "Group: Sexual harassment rife in restaurants", Bruce Horovitz, October 09, 2014

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