Ringo HW Chiu / AP
It is widely accepted that the restaurant industry is plagued by sexual harassment.
More than 70% of restaurant workers have been sexually harassed, according to a recent survey, and half experience sexual harassment every week, according to another. Harassment complaints come to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission more often from workers in the restaurant industry than from any other sector.
Now, a new pair of scientific studies seek to confirm why.
According to a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame, Penn State University, the reliance on tip wages, as well as the demands of the job to appear friendly and pleasant – in other words, “service with smile ”- jointly create a culture of sexual harassment. and the Emlyon Business School in France, who say their study is the first to establish an empirical link between tipping and sexual harassment.
“We show that it is really the joint effects of client tips and demands for positive gestures that lead to sexual harassment. When either is not present, clients do not feel the same sense of power. “said Timothy Kundro, professor at Mendoza de Notre-Dame. College of Business, in a university press release.
The research, recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, had two parts.
First, Kundro and his co-authors asked 92 full-time employees about their income, whether they were required to appear positive at work, and how often they were sexually harassed.
Then, they recruited over 200 men to participate in an online experiment where the men played the role of the customer, as researchers adjusted variables such as the waitress’ facial expression and whether the waitress depended on tips.
The results, they say, confirm that tip addiction and the requirement to appear emotionally pleasurable at work help increase an employee’s risk of being sexually harassed.
“It’s really compelling, in my opinion,” Kundro said, “because we replicated this from both the employee and the customer perspective and our conclusions for each were the same – the employees who stood. relying on tips face more sexual harassment, but only when required to engage in “service with a smile.”
The team’s findings on reversing those of previous national surveys.
A 2018 report from Restaurant Opportunities Center, a nonprofit group that advocates for better working conditions for restaurant workers, found that a majority of respondents who said they had experienced sexual harassment associated the harassment with to their addiction to tips.
While women make up about half of restaurant workers overall, they make up about two-thirds of tip employees, who report sexual harassment at higher rates than their non-tip colleagues.
More than half of women in tipping positions said relying on tips led them to accept behaviors that made them “nervous or uncomfortable,” according to a 2014 survey by the group.
“By introducing many women to working life, the industry is establishing cultural norms around sexual behavior that can shape perceptions of what is acceptable behavior in the workplace that workers carry with them long after they have left the workplace. ‘restaurant industry,’ reads the 2018 ROC report.
Kundro says his study shows that restaurants can reduce employee sexual harassment by eliminating their addiction to tips or allowing them to do their jobs without having to smile.
“You really can’t have both,” Kundro said. “Yet organizations often do, which may explain why sexual harassment is so prevalent in the service sector. “