Those complaints were just a few of the nearly 7,000 sexual harassment reports against employers that were reviewed in 2017 by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal civil rights laws. Sexual harassment at work is a form of illegal gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The women each filed a separate EEOC complaint, and the EEOC decided to file a class-action lawsuit on their behalf.
Sexual harassment is a particularly serious problem in restaurant and hotel jobs. From 2005 to 2015, hotel and restaurant workers filed at least 5,000 sexual harassment complaints with the EEOC — more than any other industry, according to an analysis from the Center for American Progress. This number represents only a fraction of all complaints filed by restaurant workers, as only about half of the 85,000 sexual harassment complaints filed with the EEOC in that time frame designated a specific industry.