Workplace Sexual Harassment Has Skyrocketed During the Pandemic

Workplace Sexual Harassment Has Skyrocketed During the Pandemic
Image:Sean Gardner (Getty Images)

Like a cockroach after a nuclear winter, some horrible things are damn near immortal. Even with social distancing, capacity restrictions, and the rise of working from home workplace sexual harassment has managed to thrive during the pandemic. The workers who have experienced the worst of it are the very same service of food industry employees that were being hailed as heroes and essential to the economy just a few months ago. According to a fair wage study published by the UC Berkley Food Labor Research Center, “many workers report a dramatic increase in sexual harassment during the pandemic, which is compounded by having to ask customers to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols.” The increase in harassment goes hand in hand with a significant decline in tips that the workers surveyed told researchers, “is exacerbated when they attempt to enforce COVID-19 safety protocols on customers. As a result, these workers report that they are reluctant to enforce safety protocols for fear of losing more tips.”

Among other atrocities such as PPE shortages and wages not suitable to live off of, the study finds that 41% of workers reported a “noticeable change in the frequency of unwanted sexualized comments from customers” and many of these comments come from men asking women service workers to remove their masks. The study also included exact comments that workers had heard waiting tables during the pandemic, which ranged from subtle harassment to the kind of thing you would punch someone in the face for saying if your job and livelihood didn’t depend on that person’s mood.

I’ll take your mask off and stick my tongue down your throat.
I’m called a whore constantly for asking people to wear a mask.
One man actually said: “I don’t wear a condom; I sure as hell aren’t going to wear a mask!”
A young hostess was explaining to a customer that they had to wear a mask, and they threw their hands down to their genitals and said: “Eat this”!
A man cut a hole in the mouth (of the mask) and asked a coworker if she sat on his face would he get covid.
“I can’t ever imagine myself social distancing from your sexy ass.”
When told about social distancing, customers reply in a manner along the lines of “My pocket rocket can still reach you.”
Asks to see “pretty” face. If i say no he doesn’t tip.

The study itself is comprised of six pages of sexualized comments workers have had to hear while trying to make a living during one of the worst economic periods this country has ever seen. That asteroid is welcome to come and take us all away any day now.

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