Is it sexual harassment if you’re told not to cover up so much?

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2021 | Sexual Harassment |

Sexual harassment has been a problem for restaurant workers ever since people made a living serving food to others. Yet, if you can only work part-time due to studying or raising children, a restaurant job may be the best option you have.

As with any industry, women suffer the most from sexual harassment. While you are unlikely to find an employer daft enough to put “must look pretty and smile sweetly” on the job description, some employers and customers still seem to expect those two things from their waitresses. 

Face coverings make it harder for a customer to see if their server meets those requirements. Therefore some men have started telling their waitresses to “Take off your mask so I can see you better.” As the director of One Fair Wage put it, “Women are literally being asked to expose themselves… for the pleasure of male customers.”

While this is now a widespread problem, it is nothing new. Any woman that wears a face covering for religious reasons is likely to have faced similar comments for years. Any woman that tries to wear a baggy jumper on a cold day while working in a place such as Hooters will also have realized that some employers and customers do not consider female waitresses have the right to cover up.

Sexual harassment can take many forms

Your appearance has nothing to do with your ability to serve. If your employer suggests that it does or continues to permit customers to act like it does, then you might want to pursue legal avenues to remedy the situation. Bringing a claim for workplace sexual harassment will not be straightforward. Yet, doing so might be the only way to educate employers and customers who refuse to understand.