INDEPENDENT NEWS

Restaurant & Bar Workers - Sexual Harassment

Published: Mon 10 Sep 2001 01:08 PM
Sunday 9 September
Restaurant And Bar Workers Talk About Sexual Harassment In Their Industry
Sexual harassment is seen as “just part of the territory” and too difficult to fight by many of the workers in restaurants and bars who participated in a new Human Rights Commission study.
Releasing the findings of the study as part of a Sexual Harassment Prevention Campaign, Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said that that perception had to change as sexual harassment is unlawful, discriminatory and bad for both workers and businesses.
“The study highlights findings in other research about work environments and cultures which are informal and social, and where the boundaries between work and socialising are often blurred,” said Ms.Noonan.
”But the feelings of helplessness and inability to act or speak out about sexual harassment in the industry are of great concern to us”.
The study also indicates that few of the workers surveyed had done anything about harassment they suffered. None of the workers had tried to seek help outside of the organisation to address the problem.
Five common approaches were taken by those who did try to deal with the problem. These included: laughing the harassment off, “just dealing with it”, avoiding the harasser, getting the harasser fired, or quitting the job.
“Commonly, those unable to take action felt helpless, did not know what to do or how to cope, and thought that no-one could help. One study participant wished that there was an 0800 number for such situation,” said Ms.Noonan.
“We were already aware that too few people knew of our InfoLine. This emphasizes the importance of one of the aims of this campaign which is to better promote the Commission’s 0800 number to workers in this industry.”
The Commission’s Sexual Harassment InfoLine number is 0800 496 877 / 0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS.
The Commission’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Campaign will focus on the hospitality industry in an effort to raise awareness and address the issues raised by participants in the study*. The Campaign will run over the week of 10-14 September 2001.
*The study consisted of returned questionnaires from nearly 200 workers in restaurants and bars throughout New Zealand.

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