Sexual harassment remains a pervasive issue in bars and restaurants across the United States. This alarming trend has long persisted, affecting countless employees.
Understanding the underlying factors contributing to the prevalence of sexual harassment in these establishments helps employers and policymakers address this problem effectively.
High-stress work environments
Bars and restaurants are notorious for their fast-paced and high-stress work environments. Employees often work long hours in close quarters with colleagues and customers, which can create a pressure-cooker atmosphere. These conditions may lead to inappropriate behavior and harassment.
The consumption of alcohol in bars and restaurants can exacerbate issues related to sexual harassment. As patrons drink, their inhibitions may lower, leading to more aggressive or inappropriate behavior. This, in turn, can create an environment where harassment is more likely to occur, impacting both staff and customers.
The power dynamics within bars and restaurants can also contribute to the prevalence of sexual harassment. Management and senior staff often hold significant authority over lower-ranking employees. This, in turn, creates a power imbalance that can lead to harassment. Fear of job loss or damage to one’s career prospects can deter victims from reporting such incidents.
Lack of training and policies
Many bars and restaurants lack comprehensive training and policies to address and prevent sexual harassment. Inadequate education and guidance leave employees without the tools to recognize, report or address inappropriate behavior. Establishments that do not have clear policies for handling such incidents contribute to a culture of silence and impunity.
NPR reports that more than 70% of female restaurant workers have experienced sexual harassment during their careers and that 50% experience it weekly. This suggests that hospitality employers must do more to protect the people who work for them.