By SARU JAYARAMAN --This is a special Labor Day for the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC). 2011 is an incredible year – not only the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and the origins of our founding, but also the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. We see so many parallels in the incredibly labor movement built in the aftermath of that tragedy, and the restaurant worker movement we are trying to build in the aftermath of 9/11.
The entertainment world was rocked this week by the sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood super producer, Harvey Weinstein. 17 women—including celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne, and Gwyneth Paltrow— have accused Weinstein thus far. Also in the crosshairs: Hollywood itself, for turning a blind eye to Weinstein’s behavior.
Sadly these actresses are not even remotely alone. Sexual harassment is rampant across many industries, especially the restaurant industry. Forced to rely on tips to make ends meet, women in the restaurant industry face disproportionate rates of poverty, discrimination, and sexual harassment.
A 2014 study from the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United found 66% of female restaurant employees reported having been sexually harassed by managers.
“We don’t read lots of news stories about fast food workers experiencing harassment and retail workers experiencing harassment and hotel maids experiencing harassment, but that’s not because it’s not happening,” said Emily Martin, general counsel and vice president for workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, a non-profit organization that champions equality for women. It’s a “huge” problem for women at the top and bottom of the income spectrum, she said.
The rampant sexual harassment across our industry is unacceptable. With One Fair Wage, we can ensure women who work in the restaurant industry have the financial stability needed to feel comfortable defending themselves against inappropriate behavior from employers, customers, and coworkers.
Check out ROC United’s 2014 report, “The Glass Floor: Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.” And CLICK HERE to learn more about the movement for One Fair Wage.