Report: Most LGBTQ+ restaurant workers suffer from homophobia and transphobia at work | Flavor | San Antonio
In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that up to one million restaurant workers had left the industry, many of whom were LGTBQ+ workers who reported spikes in sexual harassment and widespread transphobia and homophobia.
A June report from advocacy group One Fair Wage and the UC Berkeley Food Labor Research Center describes how distressing the situation has become. As many as 80% of tipped workers said they had experienced transphobic or homophobic comments from customers, supervisors or co-workers.
These employees’ reliance on tips puts them at a higher risk of harassment and assault than their salaried counterparts, as they may be reluctant to speak up and risk losing gratuities, according to the study.
“It is clear that living on tips leads to rampant harassment and discrimination in the restaurant industry,” One Fair Wage chairman Saru Jayaraman said in the report. “Because of their reliance on pleasing customers for income, LGBTQ+ people, women, and people of color are all at risk of dangerous sexual harassment, targeted harassment based on race and sexual orientation, and harassment based on race and sexual orientation. aggression in an industry that is disproportionately made up of people of color.”
Jayaraman urged lawmakers to raise the sub-minimum wage to avoid economic instability for tipped workers. This would allow more workers to reject workplace harassment, she added.
Granted, the numbers in the report aren’t pretty.
According to the researchers, 82% of LGBTQ+ respondents said they had witnessed sexual behaviors or comments at work that made them feel uncomfortable, while 67% said they were targeted by these behaviors or comments.
Additionally, 72% of LGBTQ+ workers said they considered leaving their job due to harassment, which is higher than the 41% of straight workers who considered leaving over the same concerns.
More than half – 58% – of respondents also said they had witnessed or witnessed transphobic or homophobic comments or behavior from customers, supervisors or co-workers.
The report is consistent with other recent research on One Fair Wage which suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the crisis of sexual harassment in the hospitality industry.
A Analysis of December 2020 of the group posited that a drop in the number of customers and tips gave individual customers more power over workers — especially women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people. These workers were often expected to enforce public health guidelines on uncooperative customers.
Another One Fair Wage survey from earlier this year found that restaurant workers said that sexual harassment has increased since the start of the pandemic and that LGBTQ+ people have noticed this spike at a higher rate than their straight counterparts – 51% vs. 41%.
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