Below the Radar Transcript

Women, Work, More: Young Women Navigating Food Service — with Kaitlyn Matulewicz

Speakers: Alyha Bardi, Paige Smith, Melissa Roach, Kathy Feng, Kaitlyn Mateluwicz, Anonymous Worker Interviewees

[soft guitar music]

Alyha Bardi  0:13
Hello, I’m Alyha with Below the Radar, a knowledge democracy podcast. Below the Radar is recorded on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Welcome to Women, Work, More, a Below the Radar series looking to make work — work for women. 

Paige Smith  0:41
From dealing with sexualized work environments, to juggling work and home lives near and far, to retirement — these experiences not only vastly differ from men’s, but also vastly differ for feminized workers across differing social intersections such as age, race, nationality, and more.

Melissa Roach  1:00
To gain a more nuanced perspective, SFU Labour Studies student Alyha Bardi, documents the lived experiences of women and their relationships with work across varying life stages & social intersections. This series also features sporadically intertwined soundclips of women speaking to their relevant work-related experiences . 

Kathy Feng  1:20
For this first installment, Alyha speaks with Kaitlyn Matulewicz about the experiences of young women workers within the food service industry. We hear about gendered power dynamics in restaurants, the normalization of sexual harassment, and issues around shift scheduling and tip-out practices. We also hear from five young women workers as they share their stories and ways of resistance.

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Alyha Bardi  1:47
Hello everyone, welcome to Women, Work, More a special series of Below the Radar, really happy that you could tune in. I'm very excited to have Kaitlyn Matulewicz with us today. Kaitlyn is the Executive Director of the Worker Solidarity Network, and the Co-Chair of the BC Employment Standards Coalition. She has a PhD in Law and Society from the University of Victoria, and did her dissertation on the topic of law, sexual harassment and restaurants. It's great to have you here, Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  2:18
Thanks so much, Alyha. Thanks for inviting me, looking forward to our conversation.

Alyha Bardi  2:22
So to begin, I'm wondering if you could quickly introduce yourself and your background in regards to gendered structures within restaurant work and law?

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  2:32
Yeah, absolutely. So you already gave me a bit of a fabulous intro there — very detailed. Thank you. But yeah, maybe I'll share how I came to study gender and restaurant work in the law. I, as a young worker, worked in the food service restaurant industry. Got my first job in a restaurant when I was 14 years old and worked there — at multiple restaurants in the industry for, you know, eight years or so, where I learned there’s a lot of sexism, a lot of sexual harassment — was so so common, and really not spoken about at all. That was my window into gender and restaurant work. And then I decided to, yeah, to do a PhD, to look at it in more depth. And that's what brought me out to the west coast. And that's how I landed there.

Alyha Bardi  3:25
And could you tell us why it's important to consider young woman workers especially when speaking on this topic of sexual harassment and restaurant work?

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  3:35
Yeah, so with workplace sexual harassment, and restaurant work, its important to consider young women workers for a number of reasons. One being the age of workers, and that's in part because the restaurant industry employs like a significant amount of young workers in BC and in Canada overall. And in all employment relationships, there's a power imbalance right? Between the employer and the supervisor and the manager, who have enormous power over the workers, given that they hire them, they fire them, they set their wages, they set their schedules. And I think that for young workers, this power dynamic is intensified, possibly because they're often working their first job, the managers or supervisors or employers are older than them. They're new largely to the world of work too, and learning the norms of a workplace, and what is acceptable and unacceptable. And then, it's also important, you know, to consider gender, because sexual harassment is gendered in a number of ways. So, statistically, you know, research often shows that women experience workplace sexual harassment more than men and that men are often the perpetrators of sexual harassment. And recent research on sexual harassment that has become more gender inclusive, has shone a light on, for example, how transgender workers also report facing sexual harassment at work at a really, really high rate. And we definitely need more research on this, and more research on trans and non-binary workers’ experiences of sexual harassment as well, and how they’re unique experiences. And you know, that's to be totally honest, a limitation of my own research as well. Yeah, and I know your question is focused on why is it important to consider young women workers and speaking of this topic, but it's also important to consider all workers. And in the restaurant industry, in the back of house where a lot of men work, it's a culture that I think is really rampant with racism and homophobia and transphobia. So harassment and sexual harassment happens there too. But I think it just looks differently in terms of how dominant forms of masculinity show up.

Alyha Bardi  5:53 
So, in your essay law and the construction of institutionalized sexual harassment within restaurants, you quote, Christine L. Williams, who wrote "individual workers may not define their experiences as sexual harassment, even if they feel sexually degraded by them." So I'm kind of wondering if you could briefly speak about what sexual harassment is, and why it may be often overlooked by restaurant workers and young woman restaurant workers.

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  6:21 
Thanks for reminding me of that quote from Christine Williams there. That was really relevant to me at my time of writing and research because to me, it captured how normalized sexual harassment can be, especially in a particular workplace culture, like the restaurant industry, and I think actually Christine Williams in that article is speaking of the restaurant industry and even her own experiences working in, I think, catering or hospitality. So yeah, I was drawn to it because It captures how normalized it can be. And I was also drawn to that quote, because it related to a specific challenge I found myself faced with. And I remember from my research, which, you know, it's important to say that I did this research before the Me Too movement took off. The Me Too movement, although it was, you know, long in the making, really, really hit the media and news and became like a household name six months after I defended my dissertation in 2017. And so the language of sexual harassment at the time when I was speaking with restaurant workers was really, really different. It wasn't something that was readily talked about. And so this was a tricky thing. And so things, you know, that could fit the legal definition of sexual harassment, right, which, you know, the legal definition of sexual harassment really, really broadly speaking, is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Things that could fit that legal definition might be routine or regular in restaurants as a workplace culture. So what that meant for me is when interviewing workers, I didn't ask them, "have you experienced sexual harassment at work?", because based on pre-existing research, and also my own time working in the industry, I had a sense that the interactions and experiences I was looking to learn more about and hear workers speak about might not be described as sexual harassment, and that language wouldn't be used. So instead, I asked, you know, open-ended questions, inviting people to talk about their work experiences and describe interactions with coworkers and managers and customers that, for example, you know, they might have been uncomfortable with. And some people who I interviewed did use the language of sexual harassment and others didn't. And yeah, I think that this way of approaching the interviews allowed for more kind of varied and complex ways to surface that women restaurant workers would handle and think about uncomfortable or unwanted sexual interactions that they have at work.

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First Worker Interviewee  9:04 
I also, I have this tattoo on my forearm that says, ‘This is art.’ When I wear short sleeves, you can see it. And men love using that as a conversation piece to talk to me. And they'll say things like, Oh, you should have like, you should have it tattooed on your other arm that says ‘I am art.’ And I don't know, it gets really weird.

Second Worker Interviewee  9:28
I was minding my own business, and this couple comes in and they're like in their 50s they could be my parents and everything was going well. They were being super nice. And you know, routinely I asked, Can I get you anything else? And the husband said, too bad you're not for sale. Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. And I genuinely didn't know how to react. And he gave me a tip. That wasn't like it was 20%. And his wife was very, very unhappy about.  

Third Worker Interviewee  9:51
I remember one time, I was at my work, and I was kind of just rubbing one of my shoulders. It was feeling a little sore. And an older customer had walked up to me, and was just like, Oh, do you want me to give you a massage? Kind of jokingly, but I just remembered feeling like super awkward in the moment and like, trying to laugh it off.

Fourth Worker Interviewee  10:14
I remember this one, this one time. I was just, I was working. And we had a conversation. And then he was like, Well, do you want to go out sometime? And I'm just like, he said, sorry. What? I was speechless. I had nothing to say. And I was like, how do I not sound rude to this man who's still a customer at my job, but also be like, I'm so sorry. That's... no. So I ended up being like, Oh, I have a boyfriend.

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Alyha Bardi  10:52
You speaking about that makes me think back to when I was in my late teens and working within the restaurant industry. And I remember having interactions with some customers — and when those things happened, I never thought ‘oh, this is sexual harassment.’ If someone had told me that at the time, I think I would have thought that was very strong wording — because, like you said, we’re taught that these sexualized interactions that are sexual harassment as just a part of the work.

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  11:24 
Yeah. And you know, just, I guess, while we're talking about language. Yeah, the language of sexual harassment seemed to be so invisible at the time, you know, in the industry. Visible in terms of like, you know, a lack of formal policies about it, a lack of any workshops in the employment environment about it. And yet, at the same time, was like this thing that was like everywhere, but also invisible. Yeah. 

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Fourth Worker Interviewee  11:54 
I think a lot of the times we think it's like, oh, it has to be physical. Like it has to be like touching. It has to be like groping and stuff like that. But I really think like, if it's an interaction where there is a power dynamic, where one person isn't allowed to say, Stop that. No, but they're clearly uncomfortable. I think that that counts.

Fifth Worker Interviewee  12:14 
As soon as you start to feel uncomfortable verbally as well as physically that right there is harassment.

First Worker Interviewee  12:22 
It comes in all forms. Honestly, I, I feel like it'd be is it as simple as an unwanted wink? Because there's so much like it's a small action, but there's so much behind that action. So, as simple as a wink or as being called honey. to like, being touched and appropriately or contacted and appropriately.

Second Worker Interviewee  12:49 
Like, especially if it suddenly makes me very aware of the fact it's because I'm a woman. It's not okay. Like, just because we don't say anything doesn't mean it's okay.

First Worker Interviewee  13:03
When you're in your training session, there should be a section about unwanted sexual harassment and explaining like, what you might experience, what you're allowed to say. And who you can talk to, if something happens and you feel unsafe. And also we have, like forms that we can fill out if something happens in the workplace that made us uncomfortable, like we can submit documentation of it, but we're never taught how those work. So it would be it would be super helpful if we were taught how to fill out these forms. It should be more of an open conversation within the workforce.

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Alyha Bardi  14:02 
And kind of talking about another paper of yours, argues that restaurant work has been structured so that sexual harassment from customers has become a regular part of the work. So could you talk a bit more about the restaurant structures that cause this?

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  14:19 
Yeah, this was a bit of a puzzle that the dissertation and the interviews put together, and something that is also, you know, promising because this isn't, this is something that is, like your question says, it's structured to be this way, and we can examine the way it's structured to be that way, and then take it apart as well. Right? And have it look differently. So there's, yeah, there's a whole ton and I'll just maybe hit on a few. And one, I think that it's really important. that contributes to sexual harassment and the normalization of sexual harassment, especially from customers, like your question asks about, is the fact that restaurant work is precarious work. And this is a really, really important part of it. And, you know, the law and something that this paper does that you mentioned the law, especially Employment Standards law, which you know, every province has a set of Employment Standards which sets the bare minimum working conditions for workers so they cover you know, things like minimum wage, hours of work, scheduling, overtime pay and all sorts of things. And those standards, and my work focuses on BC, make the work precarious and makes the work insecure in terms of, you know, schedules and then having variable unpredictable schedules and when your schedule is insecure, the income that, you know, your income from employment is also insecure. If you don't know whether or not you know, you're going to work an eight hour shift on Monday or two hour shift on Monday or be sent home, you really don't have any economic stability there. Overall, in the industry, there's a huge lack of job security. Employers can and do fire workers all the time without any notice and without just cause. So just, you know, you know, having that, being a restaurant worker and seeing, for example, your colleagues, your coworker, your friend get fired for no reason, you know, you see the power that your employer can have. And the work is low-wage, it's really, really low-wage, we just got rid of the BC liquor server minimum wage, which allowed liquor servers to be paid below minimum wage, but it's still low-wage work, where workers rely on customers for tips. So you know, what, if your boss is harassing you, and he also is the person who has the power to decide whether or not to fire you, or the power to, you know, make your schedule week-by-week? What do you do? What are your options? Or you know, even if it's a coworker, and your coworker has power over you, or it's someone in the kitchen, who's making the meals that you, you know, you rely on to come out quickly, or come out and look good, because that's going to impact your your tips that, you know, your customers leave. There's power operating in so many, maybe not obvious, ways as well. And then for customers, because you ask specifically about customers. If you're a front of house worker, and you're relying on customers for tips. And, you know, the law, the lack of a living wage, increases your reliance on tips. It can be extremely difficult to navigate customer behavior that, you know, you find unacceptable or unwanted. You know, we've heard stories during the pandemic where customers have said to, you know, servers, lower your mask, so that, you know, so I know how much to tip you. I want to see how attractive you are. We've heard, you know, heard that story and on record that story's in the media as well interviewing servers, and I mean, it's appalling. It's completely appalling. Yeah, and another part of that is, of course, like the customer service aspect of it all, and the customer ethos, or emphasis on pleasing customers in the industry. I remember speaking with one worker who told me, you know, it's actually not the service industry, it's the servants industry, because everyone treats me like I'm their servant. And I thought that that, you know, statement was such a powerful. Yeah, just so powerful in terms of highlighting like this, the relationship between customers and servers and that power dynamic, which isn't to say that's never challenged, because it is challenged as well in great ways. But I mean, that power dynamic makes navigating inappropriate sexist behavior, racist behavior, homophobia from customers challenging.

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First Worker Interviewee  18:58 
I feel like a lot of  workplaces like this are very, very geared towards the customer experience, rather than their workers experience. And so they are totally fine letting us be in these uncomfortable situations, because they just want the money coming in.

Fourth Worker Interviewee  19:20
It's like that's kind of that line that we're not allowed to cross or like, not necessarily not allowed. Sometimes managers are cool with that,  but like, it just feels kind of like do not not supposed to say that. Like you're supposed to be nice because this is your job and stuff like that. I know for a fact that there are people who like don't feel comfortable sharing with their managers and don't feel supported by their managers

First Worker Interviewee  19:47
Management needs to take a bit of a 180 and not not adhere to ‘the customer's always right.’ Because most of the time the customer is not right. Especially when they're making awful comments at us. And we're expected to just take it because management wants to keep their image clean. And we are at the short end of the stick for it. So we do have that written in that we are allowed to ask customers to leave, they're making us feel unsafe. And if it gets to a really difficult point, or we're allowed to ban them, but that that extreme of a metric can only be done at the management level. And often the managers will use that as like, the last last last resort, and even then won't even do that. Because they just want the money coming in from the regulars.

Fourth Worker Interviewee  20:50
I'm trapped honestly, because there's a line that we can't cross as opposed to if we were just it if it if we were just at a street or if we were like at this like kind of equal levels of power. The fact that we are being paid to be nice to people and we are being paid to provide this customer service whatever that means. I feel like there it limits what I'm able to say and what I'm able to like how I'm able to react like often times if customers are just making like a crude joke I have to smile and be like all right, Okay, moving on.

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Alyha Bardi  21:41
And so mentioned a bit how the liquor serving wage is now met with the minimum wage within BC. And so I’m kind of wondering where you still see the wage-tip-relation still existing — or how else does BC law continue to maintain sexualized service styles?

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  21:59
Yeah, great question. Yeah. So June of this year, BC finally eliminated the liquor server wage, like you mentioned. And it was in place since 2011. So about 10 years. And, you know, it was clearly a discriminatory wage because 82% of liquor servers in BC are women. And, you know, like you said, it made them more reliant on customers. But even though it's gone and you know, the liquor servers are entitled to $15.20 an hour, which is regular minimum wage in BC. It's still really far from a living wage, the gap between a minimum wage and the living wage. A living wage in BC is about $20 an hour depending on where you, you know, the geography and where you're located. But it's about $20 an hour in Vancouver and Victoria. And then when you factor in, you know, the fact that a lot of restaurant workers are, you know, it's not a nine to five, forty hour a week job. It's shift work. And it's often open-ended shifts, and often like part-time work, even if people desire to be full-time, right, they're underemployed and they're given only part-time hours. So all that is to say, workers are still so reliant on tips and customers for tips. So I think it's still very much there. And also, importantly, you know, we tips are an insecure form of income for many reasons, largely because they're not really guaranteed, and so many different things can shape the outcome of one's tips, but because you asked about law, you know, we still have inadequate Employment Standards in BC when it comes to regulating tips and tip pools. And these laws really don't give workers much power in deciding how tips that customers leave, you know, on the credit card or table for them are redistributed. So just to give a little bit of an example, tip pool is legal in BC. Employers are allowed to, you know, collect and divide tips or require servers to pay a percentage of their food sales, for example, at the end of their shift to the house, which then gets redistributed. But it's usually managers who are involved in redistributing. There's a lot of tip theft that happens behind closed doors. And the law really doesn't do much to prevent this, because, for example, it doesn't make it mandatory that restaurant workers have to be involved in, for example, redistributing tips. It doesn't require employers to have in place a transparent tip-out policy, so that folks know who's getting how much of the tip, and then also the Employment Standards laws that we have don't prevent employers from raising the amount of tip pool they require. So there isn't anything in there about, you know, oh, it's only x many years, every three years or so, with workers' consent, that an employer can change the tip system. It just gives all the power to employers, which means that tips are even more precarious, and the law. And the gaps in the law play a large role in that, which means that, you know, like you mentioned, that the gendered wage tip relation that plays into and contributes to sexual harassment. It still very much exists.

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Second Worker Interviewee  25:29
I feel like it's because they know, we cannot do anything about it. You know, and they know we want tips. I mean, we don't live off of them. Like I would think, Oh, it's nice. I get a tip and you know, think sort of abuse the fact that they're a customer.

Fourth Worker Interviewee  25:40
We're kind of seen as like less than our customers like we're there to like, make sure everything is okay please them in a way and like tip culture especially, as opposed to like just being paid because we're doing our jobs we're showing up or doing all that stuff, but having to like, have the customers deem you worthy of being paid or not. leads to these sorts of like entitled reactions and entitled interactions. I mean that especially on women because we're at this level of like, power power, disadvantage, I guess.

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Alyha Bardi  26:26
I definitely agree that we need to have better regulation for tip-outs. One place that I had previously worked at — the way they did the tip-out was not by the percentage of tips that you had made that day, it was by the dollar amount of food and alcohol sold. So when you're getting customers that are not tipping, then that money is coming out of your own pocket.

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  26:58 
Yeah, exactly. 100%. And people I spoke with highlighted that as well. And that, you know, if you get a table that's over $100 or so, and they don't tip you, that's, you know, $15-20 that you're missing, and you're really out of pocket at the end of the night.

Alyha Bardi  27:16 
And so in your time interviewing and conducting research or working with women restaurant workers, can you speak to any trends of agency or resistance that you came across?

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  27:26 
Yes, absolutely. I love this question. And I'm so glad that you asked me about it. Women and people working in the restaurant industry have been experiencing sexism for decades, for decades and decades, and there's all sorts of strategies and ways of resisting and I love this question because it's really important to make it visible. So a few patterns that, you know, I learned in interviewing workers that came up regularly for how they you know, cope with or handle in the moment, for example, remarks or comments from coworkers or customers or whoever is, one is humour. And humour is definitely a strategy of resistance to, you know, dish it back to a customer who is saying something to you. Laughing off remarks as well, in solidarity with a coworker, especially in the back of the house. Like, someone told me, they would go back and tell their coworker, like, see that pervert over there at table 43. You'll never believe what he just said to me. And then they'd share and have a moment to like, laugh at him for saying that. Asking a coworker, another example of coworker solidarity, asking a coworker to take over a table for them. Or, you know, if a couple of workers were working behind the bar together, for example, and, and someone didn't want to serve that customer their beer, asking a coworker to do it for them so that they didn't have to speak to him. Something that also came up too quite a bit is that, you know, more senior employees, people who, some people I interviewed referred to as their like ‘restaurant mom,’ for the senior women working there who had worked there a little longer, would warn new staff members to watch out for certain employees, other employees working there, and let them know, like, you know, if he says anything to you feel free to tell me. So a bit of camaraderie and support there as well, which had a bit of an age dynamic, too. With the older, more senior workers supporting younger workers. One woman who had worked in the industry for 11 years, since she was 14, and saying that with time in the industry, she's really developed the strategies for coping, and also had developed ways of speaking back to customers and feeling a bit more comfortable doing that. And quitting came up a lot. Like someone just deciding I'm quitting, you know, I'm not taking this anymore. And I think that making the decision to quit was also a strategy of resistance, although one that definitely, is hard, and depending on your economic position, too, isn't accessible to a lot of people, unless they have a job lined up already.

Second Worker Interviewee  30:19
Before I was on a job, there was another girl that they told me about. And you know, she's also quote unquote, exotic, and she had a very ideal body that a man would like. And she also had to deal with a lot of creepy guys like that. Even the security of the building was harassing her. And she eventually quit, because she was just done with it.

Fourth Worker Interviewee  30:48
So I was like, Okay, well, like, of course, if he comes back, we'll let me know. And like, you can switch out like, you can go to the back, and I'll take care of it. Like, yeah, just like, having eyes and ears out for interactions that are going on, and I think is really crucial to being able to make sure that you are able to, like if there is a situation to step in.

First Worker Interviewee  31:10 
I am lucky that my, my team is almost entirely women. So we're very, very, like supportive and protective of each other. So I feel very lucky that my ship supervisors are very outspoken women and will absolutely confront a customer, if any of us are feeling unsafe. If someone is making a gross comment, then we'll pretend that we don't hear them, and then ask them to repeat themselves, and then it totally throws them off.

Fourth Worker Interviewee  31:39
Now that like I'm kind of older and seeing you know, a younger generation I guess of girls who have been working and like 16, 17, 18 year olds. I kind of feel like I'm in this position where it's like I have to be watching for them as well and protecting them as well. So you know, just supporting people and like caring for your co-workers.

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Alyha Bardi  32:10
That’s a really good point, mentioning that quitting isn’t always accessible to everyone. Considering all of the research you've done, or even some of the work that you're doing right now, what do you think we need to do to re-empower young women workers working within the restaurant industry?

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  32:28
Yeah, so I think workers are empowered in many, in many ways. And before, you know, getting to contemporary examples, you know, on a, on a micro scale, I just shared a bunch of ways that workers resist daily. And then interestingly, in my research, I found that many of the leading sexual harassment cases in the, you know, Canadian sexual harassment case law came from women restaurant workers. And this is really striking and, you know, and a lot of sexual harassment cases in employment come from the restaurant industry when you when you look at the cases. For example, the very first case in the early 80s, out of Ontario, it's the Bell decision, the very first case in which a Human Rights Commission found sexual harassment to be a form of sex discrimination came from a restaurant worker. And unfortunately, the case wasn't, as you know, wasn't successful in her favour for a lot of reasons that kind of highlighted limitations of the law at the time and the law today, even. But it was still a landmark case, because it was the first case where a Human Rights Commission found sex, sexual harassment to be discrimination. And then, you know, the Janzen decision, the huge landmark Supreme Court of Canada case that decided that sexual harassment was a form of sex discrimination. And then that meant that, you know, in every jurisdiction within Canada, sexual harassment was a human rights issue, again, came from a restaurant worker. Same with, you know, many of the cases that have decided that gender-based dress codes can be a form of human rights discrimination, again, came from the restaurant industry. So it's I think that's, that really says a lot in terms of women restaurant workers who want change and want to change, and use the law, too, for that means. And then outside of human rights law, I can think of a couple of more recent examples that show um, you know, the power of young workers and young women workers in the industry and young, trans and nonbinary workers in the industry, as well at a Boston Pizza in Vancouver, BC. I don't know where you live Alyha, but a Boston Pizza in the Vancouver area unionized earlier this year with... I know right! A union victory for restaurant workers! They unionize with the UFCW 1518. And one of the immediate things they did was challenge a gender-based and discriminatory dress code that the employer had introduced on International Women's Day earlier this year. Bad timing on his part, not like there's any great timing for that. But, yeah, and the workers challenged it, you know, a gender-based dress code that made it such that, you know, women have to wear skirts, which obviously is sexist and discriminatory based on you know, on sex and also based on gender identity for folks who are nonbinary of course, and, and it was a success. You know, they went to the media, there was a lot of media pick up on it, and it was a victory for them to get that the dress code changed. And then on Lkwungen territories where I live, here in Victoria. Recently, there's been survivors of sexualized violence in the restaurant industry creating like advocacy, advocacy Instagram accounts. And so using online tools as a form of resistance which also makes me think of another example that when I was doing my research a professor in Alberta shared with me. I don't know if you've heard of it, it's called F.E.D. U.P., the Feminist Eatery Database Undercover Project which is, Yeah, something if you're, if folks are listening and that catches their attention, look it up F.E.D. U.P. It's a database that tries to do, or does, reviews for restaurants and cafes and and bars. To take a feminist approach to eating out and highlight you know, sex, gender, race discrimination in the service industry. 

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Second Worker Interviewee  36:27
We need to stop letting people that makes such comments, get away with it simply like, take that rush, or the thrill they get from, you know, all those interactions away from them.

Fourth Worker Interviewee  36:39
We need to change I guess the culture of how, systemically how men especially older men interact with young women and like that's a whole big like upheaval that I can't even imagine on how like it starts young I guess like teaching young boys that this is not okay, but then also I think there needs to be a drastic change in how we view like past like customer facing employees and how we treat people in food service as if they're human

Fifth Worker Interviewee  37:07
Stand up and speak up about it. Don't be afraid to talk to you know, your other employees that you work with about a situation that had occurred that made you feel uncomfortable.

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Alyha Bardi  37:21
That’s really wonderful, because I feel like oftentimes you don’t know how workers are being treated within restaurants, unless the staff ends up being really vocal — so I feel like something like that with FED UP is so great. Kind of moving on from that, I’m wondering if there is anything else you would life to add? 

Kaitlyn Matulewicz  37:40
Maybe just one more project I haven't highlighted yet, but if you're able to add a link when you share the interview — ‘May I?’ is a project that got started up here. And it's with industry workers, frontline sexualized violence educators, workers rights advocates, who have all come together to try and address and prevent sexualized violence and sexual harassment in the restaurant and bar industry. And the group developed — it started in 2017 — and the group developed a workshop for industry workers that is fabulous and discusses things like the root causes of sexualized violence in industry, tangible approaches and strategies for navigating sexual harassment at work. For example, how to get support or ask for support from a coworker, or how to be a supportive coworker. It also shares workers' legal rights concerning sexual harassment at work. And I think this is also a really inspiring and empowering form of resistance. And recently, the group has transformed a lot of the workshop content and that labour into a zine, a really beautiful zine, which I'd love to share with you. It's free online and yeah, if any of your listeners are interested in checking it out, as well. It's a fabulous, fabulous resource and project.

Alyha Bardi  38:57 
Yeah, that sounds really wonderful. We will have that in the links below for anyone listening. Kaitlyn, thank you so much for coming in and speaking about young woman workers, and sexual harassment within the spaces of restaurants, their resistance, and also looking forward to making changes for restaurant workers and young woman restaurant workers.

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Kathy Feng  39:28
Below the Radar is a knowledge democracy podcast created by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. 

Alyha Bardi  39:34
Thank you for listening to the first instalment of the Women, Work, More series with guest, Kaitlyn Matulewicz. To learn more about labour projects like May I? or Kaitlyn’s past research, check out the show notes below.

Paige Smith  39:47
A special thanks to the all-women team that created this series: our audio editor Paige Smith, cover artist and secondary editor Kathy Feng, transcriber and copywriter Melissa Roach, and our host and producer Alyha Bardi — as well as to each and every woman that spoke on the podcast.

Melissa Roach  40:06
Thanks again for listening, stay tuned for the next instalment of this series, coming out on Friday November the 12th with Dr. Amanda Watson.

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Transcript auto-generated by and edited by the Below the Radar team.
November 04, 2021

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