Employment News

Sexual Harassment of Tipped Employees

Jan 08, 2015

Throughout Minnesota, servers, bartenders, and other tip-reliant workers continue to endure sexual harassment and advances for the sake of their income. According to a new report titled, “The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry,” a study found restaurant workers reporting high levels of harassing behaviors from restaurant management (66%), co-workers (80%), and customers (78%).  The report concludes that women make up more than 70% of the tipped labor market, making them more vulnerable to sexual harassment.  This is also borne out by the evidence.  For the period from January to November 2011, an estimated 37% of all EEOC charges by women regarding sexual harassment came from the restaurant industry.

The restaurant industry currently has over 11 million workers and is one of the largest employers of women in the U.S.  In Minnesota, tipped-employees must be paid minimum wage in addition to any earned tips.  In many other states, however, employers are allowed to take a “tip-credit,” which allows employers to pay less than the minimum wage, and makes these workers even more dependent on tips for their income. In some states, tipped workers may only receive $2.13 an hour, and must collect the remainder of their wages from customers’ tips.  These workers are often forced to endure sexual harassment and other illegal working conditions simply to collect their wages.

Female servers are often up against a majority of male restaurant owners as well as customers who are rarely held liable for sexual harassment. As many workers in the restaurant industry know, this kind of behavior can seem par for the course. Third-party liability for customer sexual harassment in restaurants is rare, and many servers will simply put up with the abuse to protect their jobs and tips.

Are you a tipped worker who has suffered sexual harassment?

If you are in the service industry and have suffered sexual harassment from customers, co-workers, or management, remember that you have rights.  The sexual harassment attorneys at Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP are experienced in handling employment discrimination and will help counsel you in the appropriate action steps to take if you are enduring sexual harassment in the workplace. To speak with our employment law and sexual harassment attorneys, please call 612-252-3570.

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