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Sexual harassment in the workplace: Not only women are suffering

California employees may be interested to know that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other agencies have reported that the volume of sexual harassment claims filed has declined. Almost 16,000 claims were filed for sexual harassment in the workplace in 1997, whereas less than 12,000 were filed in 2010. That is 26.3 percent less.

Interestingly, while sexual harassment claims have been declining overall, reports indicate that there has been a rise in the incidents of men filing such claims. Claims filed by men in 1997 totaled 11.6 percent of all claims, whereas men accounted for 16.4 percent of all claims in 2010. In a recent Florida case, an assistant chef at a restaurant in Boca Raton filed a sexual harassment claim describing the frequent abuse he was forced to experience from other restaurant employees. The man was told by other staff that he should simply take the abuse on the chin, which he did for a long time in order not to lose his job. This abuse also apparently included physical threats.

Employment law statistics indicate that sexual harassment claims, which include promises in exchange for sexual favors as well as threats and consequences in exchange for sexual favors, are certainly prevalent in the restaurant industry. For example, 26 out of the 75 sexual harassment lawsuits this year filed with the federal government were lodged by food industry employees. One lawyer, from a San Francisco law firm that specializes in representing food service employees in sexual harassment claims, believes this is due to the fact that the restaurant business suffers from a high turnover rate and that it is such a fast-paced work environment that management has a difficult time keeping tabs on the activities of its employees.

California residents suffering from harassment by a supervisor or any kind of sexual harassment in the workplace should know that this kind of behavior from a superior or coworker is completely unacceptable. No employee should ever be forced to endure these kinds of conditions, whether male or female. There are laws that protect employees from untoward sexual advances at the workplace, but it is ultimately up to the people being abused to take action and defend their rights.

Source: The Nation's Restaurant News, "Looking at sexual harassment in the restaurant industry," Ron Ruggless, Dec. 5, 2011

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