Workplace Worry: Being Subjected to Harrasment

Fast+foods+has+been+a+place+for+sexual+harassment.+Photo+from+Writingspro.com
Fast foods has been a place for sexual harassment. Photo from Writingspro.com

Fast foods has been a place for sexual harassment. Photo from Writingspro.com

Fast foods has been a place for sexual harassment. Photo from Writingspro.com


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Two in five women working in fast food restaurants were subjected to sexual harassment on the job, and many of them report serious negative health and professional consequences as a result, concluded a Hart Research survey.

The research firm polled 1,217 women aged 16 or older, who were working in non-managerial positions in fast-food restaurants between July 22 and 27, 2016.

Sexual harassment takes a serious toll on fast food workers. Women subjected to harassment on the job report negative personal, health, and professional consequences as a result, yet many feel compelled to accept it out of financial necessity.

In 2014, when Restaurant Opportunities Center United deemed sexual harassment in the restaurant industry an “endemic,” they released a study that said 90 percent of restaurant employees — men and women — reported having experienced sexual harassment on the job.

Out loud, I’ve heard comments probably five or ten times, but I know comments aren’t all.  I get looks,” said an anonymous female D.C. Everest student.

For about a year and a half, the student has worked at a fast-food restaurant, receiving advances as early as the first month in her position.  

“The first time it happened, it wasn’t super graphic.  This weird guy, when I called his order, called me ‘sweetie’ and grabbed the back of my hand as I handed him his tray,” said the anonymous student.  “My skin was crawling.”

Most recently, the student was working the drive-thru when she elicited unwanted pointing.

“Immediately, I could tell the man in the passenger seat was obviously very drunk.  The man driving seemed intoxicated as well, but I don’t want to assume because of drunk driving and all that,” she said. “As soon as I had opened the window, they started calling me sweetie, saying I have a fine body.  As I turned around to get their change they commented on my butt and boobs, and were pointing at me.”

Many guests don’t expect that their behavior will be questioned; many restaurants don’t want to make a customer uncomfortable by correcting their behavior.  Because of this, employees like the anonymous female assume higher-ups won’t do much.

Because the customers were so loud, the manager heard.  I told him and he had someone else bring out their food,” said the worker.

‘Anonymous’ and one of her coworkers are very close, and share the experiences they have to bear each day they return to work.

“We have each other’s backs, and she tells me, ‘Hey that guy was ogling you’ if I don’t notice,” said the student.  “She had a run in while cleaning the men’s bathroom.  A man walked in, ignoring the ‘do not enter’ sign— and started using the bathroom. She immediately apologized and got up to leave, but the man turned to her, smiled, and said, ‘Oh, you can stay.’”

The anonymous female student is “sick of it,” and prepared to lose her job because the activity has become too much.

“If my boss was saying or doing those things it would’ve been stopped. I’m sick of it.  Employees are told to bear our teeth and get it through with, and the ‘customer is always right,’ but nobody should be objectified or harassed,” said anonymous.


Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it occurs in the workplace.   Anyone, male or female, can be a victim of sexual harassment. The victim and the harasser can be a woman or a man, and they can be the same sex. A man might harass another man, a woman might harass another woman.  The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

IF YOU FEEL YOU HAVE BEEN HARASSED:

Consult your employee handbook or policies. If your employer has a sexual harassment policy in place, follow it. Put complaints in writing. Take immediate notes on the harassment and be specific in your details — note the time and place of each incident, what was said and done, and who witnessed the actions. Also, consider documenting your own work productivity while the incident(s) occurred or after. Nothing is too small or trivial.

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