One of the many reasons often cited for the dearth of women in the upper echelons of restaurant kitchens is the idea that restaurants are havens for sexual harassment. And the current uproar surrounding Herman Cain, over his possible involvement in sexual harassment cases at the National Restaurant Association, has shifted the national spotlight back to the link between restaurants and sexual harassment once again.
MSNBC, prompted by the Cain scandal, took a look at some statistics on the phenomenon -- and uncovered some shocking figures.
According to the MSNBC research 26 of the 75 (37% ) sexual harassment suits reported by the federal government so far this year took place in restaurants. Considering that less than 9% of American workers are employed by restaurants, this is a dramatically outsized percentage. And it's not as if this year is some kind of aberration; the MSNBC piece cited a poll from Louisiana showing that 42% of female restaurant workers had experienced sexual harassment at some point in their careers.
These statistics, of course, just reinforce decades of anecdotal reports of restaurant-based sexual harassment, which have implicated parties from Cracker Barrel to Gordon Ramsay.
It's unclear how -- if at all -- to apply these trends to the case of Cain. They seem, on the one hand, to make it more likely that a case would have arisen, but they may also help explain the cultural background of a case, if it did in fact take place. The women of The View, for their part, seemed to take the latter tack, saying that restaurants' history of harassment more or less mitigates Cain's behavior: