Washington - Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and 16 colleagues today to send a letter to Acting Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Victoria Lipnic requesting information on the commission's efforts to address sexual harassment in the food and hospitality industries, which have high numbers of tipped workers. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal workplace anti-discrimination laws and investigating discrimination charges that employees file with the commission. In fiscal year 2016 alone, the EEOC received close to 13,000 complaints involving sexual harassment.
"Sexual harassment is pervasive throughout the United States, and it does not discriminate by industry. Yet EEOC data shows that the ‘accommodation and food services' industry-including restaurants and the hospitality industry-is particularly rife with harassment," wrote the senators. "Sexual harassment remains a persistent problem for American workers-particularly women and people of color."
From fiscal years 2005 to 2015, complaints from accommodation and food services workers accounted for 14.2% of all sexual harassment allegations filed with the EEOC. Over 60% of workers who rely on tips are women, and 40% are people of color. Data show that tipped workers are particularly susceptible to sexual harassment. Some evidence also suggests that tipped workers who are paid less than the minimum wage experience higher rates of sexual harassment than tipped workers paid the standard minimum wage.
To better understand the EEOC's ongoing efforts to address sexual harassment, the senators asked the EEOC to provide thorough answers on what the EEOC has done to identify, investigate, and limit sexual harassment in the workplace no later than January 5, 2018.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Corey Booker (D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also signed the letter.
Text of the letter can be found here.