Des Moines, IA- Restaurant workers and waitresses are not only overworked and oftentimes underpaid, but they are also sexually harassed to alarming degree. And the biggest perpetrators are their customers, though their bosses also behave badly, according to a new study.

In a survey, conducted by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, of 5,000 restaurant workers, 90 percent of female servers said they have been sexually harassed on the job. Two-thirds of the women faced sexual harassment from a boss while 80 percent said either coworkers or customers subjected them to harassment. One-third of the women surveyed said customers pinched or touched them, but most of the harassment came in the form of inappropriate comments, lewd jokes and requests for dates.

Women may make up two-thirds of the restaurant industry, but men too face sexual harassment. According to the survey, over half of male servers are harassed by their bosses and 70 percent face harassment from their coworkers. Fifty-five percent of male servers are sexually harassed by customers, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In their study they ROC chided the restaurant industry for allowing sexual harassment to persist to such a degree the behavior has become “normalized” in the industry.

Why is sexual harassment so common for servers? The study suggests that because servers depend on tips to make a livable wage, they are willing to dress more provocatively and flirt with their customers in order to increase their tips. Managers tend to give servers who are willing dress “sexier” and wear more revealing clothing better shifts and other benefits.

The ROC study concluded that restaurant workers ignore harassment because they fear retaliation, stating workers “fear they will be penalized through loss of income from tips, unfavorable shifts, public humiliation or job loss.”

Retaliation is a common practice so the harassment victims find they need the assistance of a sexual harassment attorney to seek compensation on their behalf. Victims of sexual harassment and retaliation are eligible to damages for their emotional distress and loss of wages, depending on the circumstances of their case.

Data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission nearly 37 percent of the sexual harassment complaints they receive each year come from women working in the restaurant industry. That is five times the rate of overall female workforce overall, according to the Institutes for Southern Studies.

There is this prevailing rhetoric that people who are sexually harassed should be flattered by the attention. This is a ridiculous notion, people should be able to do their job without being subjected to any sort of harassment, whether it’s because of their gender, race or even their haircut.

Harassers fail to realize how their actions affect the target. Sexual harassment victims feel embarrassed humiliated and ashamed and over time this can affect their mental and physical health. No employee has to endure harassment so if their employer won’t take action, a sexual harassment attorney will.