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Female fast food employees frequently harassed at work

Texans who work in fast food restaurants likely will not be surprised to learn that a large percentage of female workers in that sector experience workplace sexual harassment. A survey that was conducted of 1,217 female fast food workers age 16 and older revealed the extent of the problem.

Hart Research Associates found that 28 percent of the women had experienced multiple incidents of sexual harassment. The forms of harassment that were reported included derogatory comments about the women's sexual orientation, unwanted touching or kissing, sexual jokes and teasing. The women reported experiencing stress, depression, anxiety, loss of sleep and loss of appetite. Some reported quitting because of the harassment while others quit their jobs or cut back on their hours. Some women changed their work schedules in response to the harassment.

One in eight women who responded to the survey reported feeling trapped and unable to leave their jobs because of the harassment. A study conducted in 2014 by Restaurant Opportunities Center United found that 90 percent of employees in restaurants have experienced sexual harassment at work. That study did not look at fast food chains, however. Fast food chains have come under fire for workplace sexual harassment. In a 2016 case involving Chipotle, a teenage worker sued and was awarded $7.65 million after she was harassed by her supervisor.

Sexual harassment at work is against the law, but some people are afraid to report incidents when they occur. People who are being harassed might begin by following their company's complaint process as set forth in the employee manual. If this proves fruitless, they may want to meet with an attorney to discuss the filing of a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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