When you’re working as a waitress, you know that there are going to be times when people say things they shouldn’t. You know that someone might slide you their phone number or be rude to you just because you’re female.
What you didn’t think you’d need to expect was someone slapping your behind or whistling at you. You’re good looking, but that kind of behavior, whether it’s from a coworker, your boss or a customer, is totally unacceptable.
There have been stories about women who have been propositioned by customers who said they’d pay the waitress’s college tuition if they would have an affair. There are stories of women as young as high schoolers being hit on by men while they waited on them and their kids.
The shocking thing about this treatment isn’t that it happens — instead, it’s shocking how often it happens. Some feel that they have to tolerate this behavior to get the tips they need to make ends meet.
As a server, you should stand up for yourself if you’re being harassed in the workplace.
By law, you are protected against sexual harassment in the workplace, even if that harassment comes from customers. You can get your management team and the authorities involved if you’re being harassed by customers who simply will not stop when you tell them to.
In the case that you’re being harassed by a coworker or employer, it’s wise to speak with your human resources department. If you don’t have one that you can turn to, then you may want to reach out to an attorney with notes about:
- The different instances of harassment
- Who witnessed the harassment
- The frequency of harassment in the workplace
…and any other information that you have available about the incidents that have taken place.
Can you make a case based on a single instance of harassment?
Many people think that a single instance of harassment isn’t enough to start a case, but it can be, depending on the severity. For example, if someone asks you out to dinner once, that’s probably nothing to consider as harassment. However, if they persist in coming to your restaurant and continue to ask you to date them after you’ve said no once, then that is creating a pattern that could help you build a case. Your attorney will talk to you about your specific situation, so you can decide if it’s a case to pursue.