Is sexual harassment part of the job as a waitress?

Waitressing can be tough at the best of times. You are on your feet for hours, often until late at night, and things can go from quiet to manic in seconds. Customers can be demanding or rude, and so, at times, can your colleagues.

While the pay is lousy, at least you can make good tips. Yet, sometimes what you need to endure to get those tips amounts to sexual harassment. One survey found 70% of servers said they had experienced sexual harassment in their job at some point.

Customers who harass waitresses may feel they have a right to

Many waitresses experience sexual harassment daily, even if those doing the harassing might not call it that. Some men feel that their actions are OK because you are a waitress and they tip you well. Some employers encourage that belief, by asking you to “dress nicely,” or “smile a bit more if you want to make good tips.”

Here are a few examples of sexual harassment you may have faced:

  • Someone grabbing or patting you
  • Someone asking for your phone number
  • Someone asking if you are single
  • Someone staring at your behind or your chest
  • Someone making sexual comments about you to their friends
  • Someone making inappropriate comments to you
  • Someone telling you to smile
  • Someone calling you baby
  • Someone telling you to pull down your mask so they can see you

Telling a customer to stop sexually harassing you may reduce your tips. Yet, it shouldn’t. You do not have to accept sexual harassment in your job. If your employer fails to act when you tell them about a client or colleague harassing you, there are legal options available.

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