The Feed

Pandemic Exposes Restaurant Workers to Harassment

A new report released by Queens College and One Fair Wage reveals restaurant employees working through the pandemic are at a higher risk for contacting COVID-19 and becoming victims of sexual harassment.

According to the report titled Take off your mask so I know how much to tip you: Service Workers’ Experience of Health & Harassment During COVID-19, many workers reported a “dramatic increase” in sexual harassment during the pandemic. This includes comments from customers telling them to remove their masks.

Comments by male customers indicate that they feel entitled to demand that workers remove their protective gear, exposing them to the risk of illness or death, in order to obtain the tips they need to make up their base wage.

It is absurd that these workers are subjected to comments like “I wish I could see your pretty lips if they match ur [sic] eyes,” and “Your mask brings out your eyes! Smile for me.” These already vulnerable employees are forced to choose between safety and sacrificing tips—which have already been severely cut due to pandemic-related business losses. Not to mention the basic dignity they deserve.

Read more about the report here and learn how you can help promote workplace safety across the industry.