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.