News Release

Sexual Harassment and Low-Wage Women

JANE SLAUGHTER, jane at labornotes.org, @labornotes
Journalist Slaughter recently wrote the piece “No Casting Couch for Low-Wage Women, But Lots of Sexual Harassment” for Labor Notes.

She writes: “Sexual harassment doesn’t happen just to glamorous women in glamorous industries. Since sexual harassment is about power, not sex, it’s not surprising that low-wage women in lousy jobs get a lot of it.

“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says the restaurant industry is the largest source of sexual harassment claims. In a national survey of 4,300 restaurant workers by the worker center Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, more than one in 10 workers reported that they or a co-worker had experienced sexual harassment. ROC says even this creepy figure is likely an undercount.

“Focus groups and interviews ROC conducted nationwide found sexual harassment an ‘accepted — part of the culture.’ One worker said, ‘It’s inevitable. If it’s not verbal assault, someone wants to rub up against you.’

“ROC reviewed four years of EEOC sexual harassment settlements and verdicts in the restaurant industry and found that cases were filed primarily against well-known chains, including McDonald’s (the worst, with 16 percent of the cases), KFC, Sonic, IHOP, Applebee’s, Cracker Barrel, Ruby Tuesday, and Denny’s.

“Most often, workers were abused and harassed daily and faced some form of retaliation for complaining.”