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Sexual harassment rampant in cocktail industry

As most readers of this blog know, California has strict laws against sexual harassment in the workplace. One industry, however, seems to overlook these prohibitions on a regular basis. As 2016 came to a close, a number of men and women went public with tales of sexual harassment in what is broadly known as the hospitality industry, i.e., hotels, restaurants and bars.

The first outpouring of this news was a website called The Reality of Sexual Assault in the Cocktail Community. Fifteen women posted their personal stories of sexual assault by their superiors and co-workers. Some of the assaults were only verbal descriptions of sexual encounters, but some women encountered physical abuse, such as unwanted kisses and fondling. More women gradually added their accounts to the existing posts.

A reporter who interviewed a number of people employed in the hospitality industry, especially in bars and restaurants, stated that numerous men and women to whom she spoke reported that sexual assaults were both numerous and, to a limited extent, accepted throughout the industry. The proximity and easy availability of alcohol was cited as a principal cause of the hostile work environment that gives rise to sexual assaults. Some women have described incidents in which the drunken assailant was a friend or co-worker. Many of the women did not complain about the assault, choosing instead to grant a "drunken pardon," attributing the assault to too much alcohol.

A number of women described how they were intimidated into choosing not to make an open complaint. Anyone who experiences sexual harassment on the job may wish to consult an attorney who handles employment litigation. Such a consultation can provide a helpful analysis of the facts and law of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages and attorneys' fees.

Source: Vine Pair, "The Cocktail Industry Has a Sexual Assault Problem," Francine Cohen, Jan. 23, 2017

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