I would like the lasagne with a side of your ass please

Is the restaurant industry a hotbed of sexual harassment? We spoke to waiting staff to find out more. 

According to The Glass Floor: Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry, 37% of all sexual harassment reports are restaurant born.

Why is the restaurant industry rife with sexual harassment?

A popular thought is that it is down to the ‘sex-role spillover theory’. This theory is specific to female restaurant staff and is defined as ‘the carryover into the workplace of gender-based expectations for behavior that are irrelevant or inappropriate to work’. These gender-based expectations may then influence the way that some individuals interact with female members of staff.

Waitress, aged 19.

But what about male staff? Similarly to the cases within the entertainment industry that have recently come to light, there are no gender restrictions when it comes to sexual harassment. As Lotta Behrens reported in her #MenToo story ‘…we are all vulnerable’.

Barman, aged 20.

Some customers view themselves as being superior to waiting staff. Is this assumed power dynamic sometimes to blame? They think that they can, so they do?

But sexual harassment in restaurants and bars does not only occur between customers and the waiting staff. In some cases it also happens between colleagues.

Waitress, aged 21.

Recent findings by an Opinium poll depict that over half, 58% to be precise, of sexual harassment cases go unreported.

For years there has been a culture of silence in regards to sexual harassment.

Victims sometimes feel embarrassed about what happened to them or fear that others would think that they were over reacting.

To be clear, sexual harassment is defined as ‘any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them’ (Equality Act, 2010).

The stigma surrounding sexual harassment within the restaurant industry, and all others, needs to be eradicated.


Words: Amelia Walker-Hall | Subbing: Melina Zachariou | Audio: Amelia Walker-Hall


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