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The service industry and sexual harassment in California

| Jun 29, 2021 | Sexual Harassment |

Service industry workers are encouraged to be friendly and even flirty in order to provide good service and earn better tips. A lot of times, a service industry worker’s livelihood depends on a customer tipping them since their paychecks are made up of mostly tips.

However, research shows that this sort of behavior and mindset can make service industry workers more prone to sexual harassment and even assault on the job. This is due in part to the pressure to be friendly and also the fact that tips make up most of their income.

How do tips affect sexual harassment of service workers?

One study involved 92 participants who worked 35 hours a week in a job where they regularly received tips from customers. The study had the participants answer questions about how much tips made up their general income and how much their attitude may or may not impact those tips. Employees who were financially dependent on tips had more stories of sexual harassment. This number went up when the restaurant pressured friendly service.

How do customers treat service workers?

The study also recruited over 200 men to participate in an online experiment involving four study conditions that simulated a restaurant visit. These conditions involved four different waitresses who:

  • Were friendly and dependent on tips
  • Were friendly but not dependent on tips
  • Were neutral and dependent on tips
  • Were neutral and not dependent on tips

Results from this study found that most participants not only tipped less for waitresses who came across as neutral but treated the waitresses who were friendly differently in the online simulation. In these cases, the online study results echoed the survey responses of restaurant workers.

If you’re struggling with sexual harassment in the service industry, you’re not alone. Reach out to a lawyer to discuss your options for holding harassers or your employer accountable.

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