When it comes to workplace harassment, particularly sexual harassment, the women in these largely pink-collar jobs face challenges both institutional and societal.
When the time comes to speak out, many of the women in these fields lack support from organizations like unions. “If I’m a low-wage worker who works in a restaurant and I’m not in a union, and I’m in a state where I’m working with a minimum wage, the customer has control over my work conditions,” said KC Wagner, director of workplace issues at Cornell University’s labor institute.
Women reporting harassers on their own are more likely to weigh the potential economic repercussions. “If I were to speak out, what is management’s response to me objecting to behavior from a customer?” Wagner said. She added that women in jobs like this often face workplace cultures that say the customer is always right, and sometimes they have to grapple with one particularly uncomfortable question: “Am I on the menu?”