Press Releases

Bipartisan Women’s Caucus Hosts Hearing on Sexual Harassment in the Service Sector

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Washington, March 19, 2018 | comments

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues hosted a hearing about sexual harassment in the service sector entitled, “Beyond the Headlines: Combating Service Sector Sexual Harassment in the Age of #MeToo.” Members of Congress heard from survivors of sexual harassment as well as professionals with expertise on the issue, and discussed with participants ways to change the culture in the workplace.

The hearing was hosted by Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, Susan Brooks (R-IN), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Vice Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, Mimi Walters (R-CA), Vice Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA).

“This bipartisan hearing was shocking and sad, as it put a spotlight on what has been a dark secret in our workplaces, often preventing women from reaching their full economic potential. While #MeToo headlines are dominated by stories of abuse from famous men, sexual harassment runs rampant in all industries, depriving workers of a safe and dignified environment, and interfering with their ability to support their families. The testimony we heard today gave us even more impetus to seek out anti-harassment policies that are working in the public and private workplace and find out what, if any, changes we need in our laws,” said Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL).

“The service industry, which includes restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and other hospitality establishments, has the highest rates of sexual harassment charges filed of any industry, accounting for 14.2 percent of sexual harassment claims filed to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 2005 to 2015. Regardless of whether the harassment comes from a coworker, manager or customer, no one should have to deal with or tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace. Ensuring our workplaces are free of sexual harassment and discrimination is of the utmost importance and I am proud to join my colleagues today from the bipartisan Congressional Women’s Caucus to shine a light on what more needs to be done to prevent future abuse as well as support and protect the victims of abuse while they are at work,” said Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-ID).  

“As the Vice Chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, I am proud to join my colleagues to host this hearing on the pressing issue of combating sexual harassment in the service sector. The time is up for women to continue to suffer in silence and I am encouraged that with dedication and relentless pursuit, we can change this hurtful and harmful workplace culture. No one should ever have to endure sexual harassment in their place of work, and the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus is here to make the strong statement that harassment, intimidation and unwanted advances cannot and will not be tolerated,” said Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-MI).

“Sexual Harassment should not be tolerated under any circumstances. The stories we’ve heard over the last several months demonstrate that the status quo is unacceptable and things must change. I thank the women who demonstrated remarkable courage by sharing their stories today.  I also thank the industry experts for their insight regarding the steps we can take to sexual harassment. We must continue this dialogue to ensure future generations can thrive in a workplace free of discrimination and harassment,” said Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R-CA).

“Sexual harassment occurs in all industries. Today we heard compelling testimony about sexual harassment in the service industry. From flight attendants to waitresses and bartenders, sexual harassment occurs throughout a variety of industries and we need to hear from more voices on how we can turn this around. We are continuing our efforts at creating a culture of zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace and the best practices for ensuring that,” said Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA).

“Today’s hearing gave voice to millions of women in the service sector who have suffered abuse and harassment for years, all because they need to work to pay their bills, put a roof over their heads, pay for tuition, and support their families. The experiences of many of our witnesses were disturbing, to the point of disgusting, and sounded like something out of a bad movie. Restaurant servers dodging physical assaults because they’re dependent on tips. Flight attendants being called to a passenger’s seat, only to find the passenger exposed under a blanket. Nearly 50% of hotel housekeepers surveyed said they have been flashed by a guest, and nearly 60% of hotel workers said they’ve been sexually harassed. And when they are attacked, the message is clear – shut up if you want to keep your job. Well, we had a clear message to send today as well – the Me Too movement is moving on to the service sector. Because for servers, hospitality workers, flight attendants, and every working woman in America, Time’s Up,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA).

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