Sexual harassment is more common than most people realize. Yet, certain sectors of the professional world are more susceptible than others to this type of egregious behavior. Amongst them is the fast-food industry. Restaurants in general are problematic when it comes to sexual harassment, with one study showing that 90% of women who work in the industry report having been subjected to sexual harassment. Even 70% of male workers in this industry have indicated that they’ve been sexually harassed at work.
Sexual harassment in the fast-food industry
Those who work in the fast-food industry can be taken advantage of relatively easily. This is because these workers usually aren’t in as strong of a position to protect their rights as those who work elsewhere. For example, fast-food workers are oftentimes subjected to inconsistent scheduling and frequent schedule changes, which means that it can be hard to decipher when retaliation has occurred after sexual harassment has occurred.
Also, the fast-food industry is typically less professional. This may mean that supervisors are less qualified, and they receive less training on issues like sexual harassment. This leaves workers at risk.
How employers try to mask sexual harassment
The sad reality is that many supervisors and managers in the fast-food industry try to hide sexual harassment, going so far as to try to make it acceptable. They do this by indoctrinating their employees that sexual harassment is simply part of the job. They may also coach their employees to view the customer as always being right, which can make it hard for employees to push back against harassing behavior.
Additionally, many managers at fast-food restaurants know that their employees earn a lower wage and are dependent upon what little income they bring in. They then use this power dynamic to hush those who have been sexually harassed.
What can you do if you’ve been sexually harassed?
Be prepared to take action if you have been subjected to sexual harassment at work. This includes each of the following:
- Reporting the problematic behavior to your employer and its human resources department
- Documenting every instance of harassing behavior, making sure to write down the time, date, and exactly what happened
- Contacting witnesses who may have observed you being subjected to harassing behavior
- Retaining all communications that you’ve had with your employer about the harassment as well as the individual who has been harassing you
- Keeping track of how the harassing behavior has affected you, which may include everything from job loss to reduced income and emotional turmoil and embarrassment.
- Obtaining any training materials that were provided to you and your employer’s management team that speaks to anti-harassment practices and reporting procedures
We know that seems like a lot. But if you want to protect your interests as fully as possible, then you need to be prepared to pursue a legal claim. And you really shouldn’t do that until you have a full understanding of your case and the evidence that you have to work with.
Stand up to have your voice heard
If you’ve been subjected to sexual harassment and have suffered an adverse employment decision as a result, then you’ve been wronged. The only way to try to make the matter right may be to take legal action.
While a successful a claim may lead to the recovery of much needed compensation, it can also help you find accountability, protect other workers from similar harassing behavior, and let your voice be heard.