Female hospitality workers and domestic workers suffer sexual assaults at work at alarming rates. With long hours and night shifts, women in these jobs are especially vulnerable to abusive employers and assaults by customers.
Sexual Assault at Work
According to workplace safety studies and law enforcement agencies, women at the bottom of the labor market in minimum-wage jobs face significant incidents of on-the-job sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. Although the current MeToo movement has brought sexual misconduct to the forefront of the American public, most repercussions have been seen in Hollywood and among high-ranking government officials. Women who are victimized by sexual harassment and assault in ordinary or low-paying jobs are often never acknowledged and never receive justice. They work long hours and night shifts performing back-breaking labor to support their families and keep food on the table at home. They often don’t speak up when sexual misconduct at work occurs for fear of losing their jobs and income.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the country’s watchdog agency for discrimination in the workplace. Over the last decade, they have seen an increase in reports of workplace sexual harassment and assault. Similar to racial and religious discrimination, sexual harassment and misconduct occur more frequently among workers of color and low-wage jobs. EEOC reports also reveal higher numbers of sexual misconduct among controlling, high-powered employers, young or immigrant domestic workers, demanding customer service jobs, isolated business locations, and jobs where alcohol is served to customers or staff.
The EEOC investigates and issues penalties to employers found guilty of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment in the workplace if there are 15 or more employees. For smaller businesses, employees who face sexual assault or misconduct at work do not fall under EEOC protection. However, workers who are victimized on the job can file a personal injury lawsuit against the perpetrator and may be able to collect workers’ compensation for their physical and/or emotional injuries.
In 2010, eight states, including Nevada, passed the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights that protects domestic workers against sexual misconduct and discrimination in the workplace. Under this act, hospitality and domestic workers who face some of the highest rates of on-the-job sexual misconduct are provided with a process for filing lawsuits for sexual assault, abuse, and harassment.