In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the list of wealthy and powerful men who have been outed as sexual harassers, abusers and predators continues to grow. While high-profile cases involving ousted CEOs and shamed Hollywood producers dominate media headlines, those involving less high-profile industries, such as the aggressive fast-food manager or inappropriate hotel guest, are rarely reported.
#MeToo has empowered many women to speak out about the sexually explicit comments they endure or physical assault they experience. For women who work minimum- or low-wage jobs — a disproportionate percentage of whom are Hispanic and black — sexual harassment remains a pervasive problem.
Sexual Harassment Rampant In Certain Industries
A woman may choose to remain silent about harassment and abuse she suffers at work for many reasons. When viewed through the lens of a 23-year-old Hispanic single mom who lives paycheck to paycheck, fear of being fired and the resulting economic repercussions tops the list.
The following industries employ a high percentage of minority women who earn minimum or low wages:
- Hospitality and restaurant
- Health care
- Waste management
For these women, lack of power and fear of retaliation often prevent them from speaking up and reporting the egregious abuses they suffer. Rightfully so-- according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center of EEOC complaints filed between 2012 and 2016, more than 1 in 3 women who filed charges alleging sexual harassment also alleged retaliation.
Encouraging All Women To Understand What Is Workplace Sexual Harassment and to Speak Up About It
As the #MeToo movement continues to gain momentum and spur both cultural and systemic change, it is crucial that the voices of all women are heard and respected. Whether a top-billing actress or a waitress who earns minimum wage, employment laws protect all workers from sexual harassment and abuse, including:
- Lewd jokes or sharing details of sexual experiences or fantasies
- Inappropriate touching, kissing or caressing
- Sexually offensive gestures or remarks
- Brushing or pressing up against an individual
- Comments or insults related to an individual’s gender or sexual orientation
- Physically blocking an individual’s movement
- Sending or displaying sexually inappropriate materials, including videos, photos and texts
- Requests for sex or sexual favors
- Sexual assault
If you have experienced sexual harassment or assault in the workplace, an attorney can help you end the abuse and stand up for your rights.