Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry

Sexual harassment is something that many people have to deal with at some point in their life. It can be a difficult experience, and not everyone knows what they should do if it occurs. In this article, we will discuss 4 steps you need to take if you are sexually harassed while dining out or ordering food from a restaurant. Knowing these steps can help protect you and ensure your safety.

Take action
If you are sexually harassed, whether verbally or physically, it is important that you take some sort of action. Do not ignore the harassment and hope it ends. The first step is to tell your harasser to stop harassing you. If they are verbally harassing you, say something like “Stop talking to me like that” or “Do not speak to me that way.” If they are touching you inappropriately, say something like “Please don’t touch me there” or “Keep your hands to yourself.” This will let your harasser know that their actions are unwanted and hurtful, which may make them more likely to stop. Leave the Situation – If the harassment continues or if you are sexually assaulted, you need to leave the situation immediately. If you are in a restaurant, ask your waiter/waitress for help.

Know Your Rights
There are laws in place to protect people from being sexually harassed or assaulted, even if they choose not to take action against the perpetrator. As a result of these protections, it is important that you know what your rights are so you can decide what actions are necessary for your personal safety. If You Are Uncomfortable With Your Meal – According to California Civil Code Sections 54 & 55, restaurant employees must provide customers with reasonable accommodations when requested. These accommodations can include changing seats away from harassers or switching tables, if available. If the server refuses to accommodate your request, let them know that this is an issue under California law and demand that he or she fulfill your request. If You Are Sexually Assaulted – Under California Penal Code Section 261(a)(2), any person who commits rape, sexual battery, or other sex crimes may be charged with a felony and face up to 3 years in prison for each offense.

Follow Up
It is important that you follow up after being sexually harassed so you can take care of yourself and seek justice for your experience. If You Are Uncomfortable With Your Meal – Tell the manager or owner of the restaurant what happened and request that they punish the perpetrator accordingly. Ask to speak with them in person, not just over the phone, so you are more likely to get a response. Perhaps most importantly, keep all receipts, bills, printed out copies of e-mails/social media comments/online posts/etc., itemized credit card statements, etc. since it may be necessary to prove that harassment occurred during future legal proceedings.

These records will help build a case against your harasser if you decide to pursue charges in civil court (which is often necessary in sexual assault cases). If You Are Sexually Assaulted – When you are in the hospital, let the doctors know if you were sexually assaulted so they can collect evidence for your case. It is important to have a rape kit done within 96 hours of being assaulted for the best results when it comes to collecting DNA evidence against your attacker. If there was no penetration, you won’t be able to press charges but still, need to speak with an officer for further instructions.

Share Your Story
As difficult as sexual harassment and assault are, not everyone knows how serious these issues are or what people should do if they experience them. Sharing your story with others will show that this is a real issue that affects many people every day and highlights why change is necessary. Many people are too afraid or embarrassed to speak up about their experiences, but the more voices that arise, the harder it becomes for sexual harassers and assailants to continue doing what they do without consequences.

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