Human Rights Violations: Serving Discrimination For Dinner

Discrimination is a word that we are all very familiar with however; sometimes we fail to recognize it when we see it. Conversely, on some occasions we turn a blind eye.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where a female server is dressed in “scanty” outfit?

Have you been to a restaurant where male servers dress in “scanty” outfits? – Pause, take a second and think about that.

Service workers can be an easy target for discrimination based on their sex. There are some restaurants and bars that are known to encourage women to dress in “scanty” clothing. Short shorts, bikini tops and short skirts are a part of the dress code. This can become especially uncomfortable for female servers when they work in an environment with large groups of intoxicated individuals.

On the other hand, men often do not have such a dress code.  Although there are environments in which men are subjected to dress gender-specifically while women are not, such establishments are less common. Furthermore, male dress codes rarely allude to sexual connotations.

Much of society is desensitized to this reality. Accordingly, many individuals do not realize that differential treatment of individuals based on their sex is a human rights violation. The issue of reinforcing a dress code based on gender/sex is not based on clothing differences but rather the sexual connotations behinds the clothing.

For instance, women may also be required to wear heels, wear their hair a particular way and wear make-up but these kinds of requests are commonly not problematic for most women. However, when women feel objectified and are clearly treated differently than their male counterparts that there is a reason for concern. For example, women are forced to wear bikinis and short shorts while men servers wear long shorts and button down shirts with tank tops underneath.

Although one may argue that these individuals are aware of the dress code before they begin work, there are points to consider. For instance, one may be aware of the dress code but not realize how uncomfortable it is until they are in the situation. Alternatively, one may not be aware that servers of another gender/sex are not subjected to similar standards until after they begin work.  However, that is not to say that every man/ woman server is against the differential treatment as some individuals are comfortable with the treatment.

One may argue, why don’t these women just complain or leave work if they feel that uncomfortable?  The reason is rather simple; there are consequences for their actions.

Many women fear having their hours cut, losing their job or differential treatment from the staff. Also, some individuals can’t afford to leave, they need the money. There are many college and university students who live on residence and are trying to pay off their OSAP fees; the pressure of debt can be overwhelming. Moreover, due to the limitation of youth job opportunities, some students feel they cannot be picky.

What can these individuals do?  Victims of human right violations can take their matters before the Human Rights Tribunal. Paralegals can argue your case before the Human Rights Tribunal. A paralegal can assist you in determining the best course of action and represent your case before the tribunal.  There are many precedent cases where individuals have taken their matter before the Human Rights Tribunals and obtained monetary compensation for their case.

Have you been in a situation where you faced discrimination? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Did you learn something new? Don’t forget to “like” the post so I can continue to bring you similar work.

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  1. I live in India….and to be honest I ‘ve never ever seen scantily dressed women at places I visit. And workplace discrimination due to being a woman is not something I’ve seen – not in my current profession and notin my earlier profession in the corporate world. I have seen people pressured unnecessarily due to workplace politics….but not due to being women. But I look at it as a woman who has had opportunities because of education….I m guessing a woman who has no options would feel differently…..


    1. Thank you for your comment Eliza! It always great to get a worldly view on social topics. There are many women who are currently in university or college but student loans to pay off and require jobs; consequently, they feel the need to “take what they can get”. I’m curious as to what you mean by “workplace politics”. If you don’t mind, could you elaborate?


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