In an effort to address widespread complaints about significant rates of sexual harassment in Illinois restaurants, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law in 2019 requiring restaurants to provide sexual harassment prevention training to employees. However, even though most restaurants are meeting their legal training requirements, sexual harassment continues unabated at many institutions.
Restaurants can be particularly difficult workplaces to manage cases of sexual harassment because the atmosphere is often hectic, casual, and friendly. Coworkers frequently date each other and outgoing, flirtatious personalities tend to be drawn to customer-facing roles where tips can be significant. Nevertheless, unwanted sexual attention is something no one should have to deal with at work, and it is possible to draw clear lines between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. If you work at an Illinois restaurant and need help dealing with sexual harassment at work, contact an experienced sexual harassment attorney.
What Behavior is Considered Sexual Harassment in a Restaurant?
While restaurant environments are generally more casual than office workplaces, the same kind of behavior that constitutes sexual harassment of a secretary or banker is considered sexual harassment of a waitress or bartender. Studies suggest that, like in other industries, restaurant workers are often sexually harassed by managers and coworkers, but restaurants present a unique opportunity for employees to be sexually harassed by customers – especially those under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This often leads to customers who:
- Make unwelcome sexual advances
- Request sexual favors
- Touch servers inappropriately
- Make sexist comments
These behaviors often happen in front of a full table of customers, making it difficult for the employee to respond negatively or forcefully. Restaurant employees also face pressure to allow the customer to be right, especially when tips make up the majority of an employee’s earnings. Research shows that male restaurant managers tend to ignore complaints from female employees rather than confront customers who are acting inappropriately.
Yet restaurant employers are responsible for responding to complaints about sexual harassment in the workplace, including from customers. In the past, employers have been held responsible for failing to take action in response to employee complaints about customer behavior. If you are facing sexual harassment at work and your employer will not take action or retaliates against you for reporting the harassment, contact an attorney right away.
Call a DuPage County Workplace Sexual Harassment Attorney
If you work in a restaurant or any other business and are being sexually harassed, you deserve to know your options under Illinois and federal law. Schedule a meeting with an experienced Wheaton, IL workplace sexual harassment attorney at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC. In sexual harassment cases we offer free consultations. Call us today at 630-665-7300.