In response to a recently published (and incredibly alarming) study reporting that 90 percent of female restaurant workers have been sexually harassed while on the job, restaurant workers and women's rights leaders joined forces to stage rallies in various cities this afternoon. The Restaurant Opportunities Center, an advocacy group for industry workers, helped organize an ongoing effort dubbed "Not On the Menu," with public rallies taking place today in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Chicago, among other cities.
During the New York City rally, which gathered at City Hall this morning, women's rights icon Eve Ensler, a former waitress, was in attendance, along with representatives from the National Organization for Women, the Ms. Foundation, and more. In addition to pointing out the disturbing incidences of sexual harassment, the rallies are also advocating for a living wage for industry workers: In an earlier interview with USA Today, ROC co-founder Saru Jayaraman argued female workers who live off their tips are often forced to sustain harassment simply to pay their bills. Female employees are being encouraged to share their stories of sexual harassment at livingofftips.com and on Twitter, using the hashtag #NotOnTheMenu. Just a few examples of the stories emerging from this afternoon's rallies, below:
Saru: Know what the uniform at chilis is right now? A tight shirt with "FRESH" written across your breasts #notonthemenu— ROC United (@rocunited) October 14, 2014
Additionally, when I asked a man what the fuck he thought he was doing pinching my ass, I received a complaint and a write-up. #NotOnTheMenu— Kate (@celtic_cookie) October 14, 2014
We don’t want to be groped or demeaned by customers or mngrs for the price of a paycheck that is too low to live on w/o tips. #notonthemenu— ROC United (@rocunited) October 14, 2014
Just met Eve Ensler at @rocunited's #NotOnTheMenu rally & she told me about the emerald-green tuxedo she once had to wear for a serving job— Hayley MacMillen (@hayleymacmillen) October 14, 2014
I've had a customer throw a $5 bill on the ground & tell me to pick it up in front of him if I wanted a tip. -- Nataki #notonthemenu— ROC United (@rocunited) October 14, 2014