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The link between tipping and sexual harassment

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2023 | employee rights |

If you work as a restaurant server, you likely depend on your tips to make a wage that you can live on. While tipping has long been entrenched in United States culture, many believe that this approach should be curtailed.

Aside from the arguments that restaurants should pay their staff a decent wage so servers do not need to make tips, recent research has highlighted a worrying link between tipping and sexual harassment.

The customer is not always right

The restaurant industry is highly competitive, and, especially today, when a customer can spread bad reviews across the internet in seconds, many employers are loathe to do anything that would upset their customers, even if that means upsetting their employees. Many clients know this and act in ways toward their servers that constitute sexual harassment.

When new servers enter the industry, they may see longer-serving staff putting up with harassment from customers and assume that is just how things go. Or they may see that those who accept inappropriate behavior from customers, engage in flirting or show more flesh get bigger tips.

If a server tries to complain about a customer to their manager, they may experience the manager failing to take any action to protect them, or worse, telling them they are the ones in the wrong. In some cases, managers may even tell servers to smile more or loosen a few buttons, effectively telling them to use their bodies to get more tips and encouraging customers to see them as objects, not people.

Clearly, this is unacceptable, yet it continues to be a common experience for restaurant servers across the country. If a customer harasses you and your employer fails to protect you, you are a victim of workplace sexual harassment and should strongly consider seeking legal guidance to explore your rights and options.