Sexual Harassment in Hospitality [Infographic]

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Sexual Harassment in the Hospitality Industry

Hospitality workers face the most prevalent sexual harassment of any sector, with unique workplace risks, vulnerable demographics, and low confidence in employer protections.

An Industry Problem

Sexual harassment is far more prevalent in the hospitality sector than other industries

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3 in 10 women in the general workforce have been sexually harassed on the job

9 in 10 women in the hospitality workforce have been sexually harassed on the job
[1] and [2]

Restaurant employees report more incidents than workers in any other hospitality industry.

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Industry: Full-Service Restaurants
Sexual Harassment Claims (1995-2016): 10,057
Average Wage of Workers: $14.22/hr

Industry: Hotels
Sexual Harassment Claims (1995-2016): 1,713
Average Wage of Workers: $16.69/hr

Industry: All Other Accommodations
Sexual Harassment Claims (1995-2016): 1,212
Average Wage of Workers: $14.10/hr

Almost all targets of harassment are female:

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83.6% female
16.6% male

Forms of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

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Types of harassment experienced by hospitality workers:

85% comments on worker’s body
87% sexist remarks
73% unwanted sexual advances
84% sexual innuendo
69% inappropriate touching
19% sexual assault

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Sources of harassment reported by female restaurant workers:

By Managers: 66%
By Coworkers: 80%
By Customers: 78%


Vulnerable Workforce

Employees who, like many in hospitality, are young, female, non-native English speakers, and undocumented are statistically more likely to be sexually harassed at work.

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Low wages
General workforce: $22.51
Hospitality: $15.83

Female gender
General workforce: 47%
Hospitality: 51%

Young median age
General workforce: 42.2 years
Hospitality: 30.3 years

Immigrants/non-native English speakers
General workforce: 19%
Hospitality: 25%

Undocumented workers
General workforce: 5%
Hospitality: 10%

Overuse of alcohol
General workforce: 9%
Hospitality: 15%

[7], [8], and [9]

Selling the Service

Many customer-facing hospitality workers are encouraged to attract or please customers through dress and behavior.

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Hospitality personnel directors’ opinions on workers’ dress and interactions:

“Dress code is important.” 80%
“Short skirts are allowed or encouraged.” 39%
“Pants are not allowed for female workers.” 38%
“Flirting with customers is allowed.” 39%
“Flirting with the customer is part of the job.” 7%



Facing Customers

Hospitality workers like servers and bartenders, who interact with customers, serve alcohol and rely on tips, are at greater risk of sexual harassment from customers.

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Positions at the “front of the house” filled by females

56% of bartenders
70% percent of servers
80% percent of hosts are female

Workers dependent on tips are 3x as likely to experience sexual harassment

Workers serving alcohol are 2x as likely to experience sexual harassment
[11], [12], and [13]

Facing Consequences

Sexual harassment is seldom reported, due in part to poor outcomes.

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71% of sexual harassment goes unreported

85% who reported felt the incident was not handled properly

75% of workers who report an incident experience retaliation
[15] and [16]

Policy and Protection

Most hospitality workers don’t feel protected by workplace management and policies.

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Hospitality workers’ opinions on safety and oversight on the job:

“I have felt unsafe, uncomfortable or at risk.” 86%
“I have witnessed others being sexually harassed.” 85%
“My employer does not take sexual harassment seriously.” 48%
“Management won’t or might not deal effectively with a complaint.” 60%
“I don’t know if my employer has an anti-sexual harassment policy.” 77%

Title VII protects workers against discrimination associated with gender or sexual orientation, including sexual harassment which creates a hostile work environment.

Hospitality employers and management can support workers by:

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Mandate regular anti-sexual harassment training.
Articulate anti-sexual harassment policy, reporting procedures, and consequences.
Treat seriously and investigate incident reports.
Encourage employees to report harassment of coworkers by customers or peers.