Sexual Harassment Rampant in the Restaurant Business

By Leeds Brown Law | January 8, 2015

Waitresses Say That Sexual Harassment Is "Part of the Job"

In a study conducted by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, approximately four out of five female wait staff interviewed admitted that they had been subjected to sexual harassment on the job or during the hiring process.

Researchers say that harassment on the job is closely tied to the way waitresses are compensated. Most have to rely on tips to make up the large percentage of their income. Servers in restaurants that paid minimum wage reported the highest incidences of sexual harassment. Because waitresses share their tips with others, including managers, they are often asked or encouraged to wear certain types of clothing or to flirt with patrons. Respondents reported a broad spectrum of harassment, from sexually suggestive language to repeated requests for dates. Nearly two-thirds of the waitresses in the study said that harassment from management was persistent, occurring at least once a month. One in three admitted that they had been pinched or touched by a customer or manager.

The report also found that many restaurants require uniforms that accentuate the problem. Popular chains such as Hooters and Tilted Kilt mandate that female servers wear suggestive clothing. Twin Peaks, a new and growing restaurant chain, grades waitresses on hair, makeup and "slenderness." Twin Peaks also expects waitresses to flirt with customers.

A recent lawsuit filed against the chain Texas Roadhouse alleges that female applicants for waitress positions at its Columbus, Ohio, restaurant were required by the then manager to be "young, attractive and screw-able." The lawsuit also alleges that women who were hired were then pressured for sexual favors, offered job-related benefits if they complied, or punished with bad shifts or even fired if they refused.

EEOC officials say that they receive very few complaints from women in the restaurant industry, but participants in the study said there is enormous pressure to suppress any discussion of sexual harassment, and that a lot of the harassment has no witnesses, becomes a "he said, she said" situation, and poses the risk of retribution, including termination. Many women simply quit and go somewhere else.

Contact Leeds Brown Law, PC

We offer a free initial consultation to anyone who has been the victim of workplace discrimination. Call us at 516-873-9550 or 212-661-4370 (toll-free at 1-800-585-4658) or send us an e-mail to schedule a meeting.

Free Consultation


Shortly after beginning medical school, I experienced some academic difficulties. After seeing my physicians, I was diagnosed with ADHD. After I started receiving specific treatment for ADHD, I requested the school to accommodate me for the disability as recommended by my physician. One of the requests made was for extended time to take my exams. The extension of time was granted...

~Kenneth Broodo, Esq.

Partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP
I hired Lenard Leeds, Esq. to assist me with my wrongful termination. I was let go of my position because of my age. I was not only told to take a decrease in pay but also required to work fewer hours to do the same job. Additionally, they kept asking me “When are you going to retire?” I visited the...


I want to thank you again for assisting me in overseeing my issues with my employer. This is the second time I have used Lenard Leeds, Esq. to fight for me. This time I was a National Sales Manager of a drug company, where acts of discrimination based on my age, national origin and retaliation took place. Mr. Leeds and...

~Law Professor

Discrimination Case

$19 Million

Settlement Secured in a National Origin
View More

Request Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below to receive a free consultation, we will respond to
your inquiry within 24-hours guaranteed.


One Old Country Road, Suite 347 Carle Place, NY 11514


get directions


101 Greenwich Street, 22nd Floor New York, NY 10006


get directions
Call Now!