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High rate of sexual harassment in fast food industry

California fast food workers might be interested in a survey by Hart Research Associates showing that 40 percent of women who work in the fast food industry have been subject to sexual harassment on the job. Almost 30 percent reported more than one incident of harassment. Incidents included sexual comments, touching and kissing.

The survey found that as a result of the harassment, the victims suffered both on and off the job. In addition to reporting symptoms such as anxiety, stress, depression and sleeplessness, women responded to harassment by making changes to their schedules, cutting their hours or quitting altogether. However, 42 percent said they felt they had to cope with the harassment because they could not afford to lose their job.

A survey by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United of employees at casual full-service chains found that 90 percent of men and women reported harassment on the job. Some restaurants have paid significant amounts in harassment-related lawsuits. Chipotle paid a former worker $7.65 million after she alleged that her supervisor had harassed her. Former employees of Le Cirque in New York City have sued that restaurant after experiencing sexual harassment at work.

People who feel that they may be experiencing sexual harassment at work might want to consult an attorney. This harassment may include sexually explicit materials in the workplace, lewd comments or other actions. Workers can first find out what their rights are and how they can proceed to try and resolve the issue internally. If the employer is not responsive or if the employee experiences retaliation, they might want to meet with an attorney to see what their next steps should be.

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