Sexual Harassment in the Hospitality Industry

With recent surveys indicating that 50% or more of women and around 10% of men have experienced harassment in the workplace, we know that reports from the film industry and government departments are likely only to be the tip of the iceberg. We may start to see serious disclosures from the hospitality industry as hidden, unspoken and buried memories of abusive incidents may well be triggered by revelations that are currently making headlines.

Many different behaviours are considered as sexual harassment including, suggestive or indecent language and remarks, unwanted physical contact, requests or demands for sexual acts and the sharing or displaying of pornographic material. Sexual harassment does not always have to be specifically about sexual behaviour or directed at a specific person. For example, negative comments about women as a group may be a form of sexual harassment.

Experiencing this in the workplace can then, by definition, feel violating, hostile, degrading humiliating and offensive. There are no circumstances wherein sexual harassment of any nature is acceptable.

What to do if you need help with this issue

A good first step is to share your experiences – talk first to someone you can trust and speak to in confidence. This does not have to be someone in your organisation if the harassment has occurred at work. Speaking about sexual harassment helps explore what your options are for action. Doing this in secret or isolation is much harder and support can be very useful during this time.
If your employer is a member of Hospitality Action’s EAP you can contact us to discuss your situation in confidence on 0808 802 2111 (24/7) or email

Alternatively non-EAP subscribers can contact our Assistance Line in confidence on 0808 802 0282 (24/7)

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