Updated: July 1, 2011

So you got this super awesome job bartending at whatever kind of place – a really hot club, a rowdy bar, a fine dining establishment – where ever. You put in your time training, learning the ins and outs of your new role… But what would you do if your trainer turned to you and said, “oh and by the way, you’re going to get hit on by horny men a hundred times a shift, and you’re just going to have to deal with it.” Depending on the environment, they may or may not have said something to that effect to you. It is important to realize though, that as a female bartender, dealing with sexual harassment is just another part of the job. The “dirty” part a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to see. How you handle peoples’ advance towards you will greatly affect your ability to do your job – whether you know it now or not. Depending on the person, the situation, and how you handle yourself will all play a part in how you as a bartender are perceived and ultimately, how much money you walk out the door with at the end of your shift.

Harassment can come from multiple angles – your clientele, your co-workers, and even your managers. It takes all different forms and objectives, but the message is still pretty much the same. Mostly, it depends on what YOU consider sexual harassment – if whatever someone is saying or doing makes YOU uncomfortable, than it is harassment. Never at any time is it okay for you to be uncomfortable at your workplace because of how someone is treating and/or talking to you!



FBC_Annoyed_BartenderSo when you’re behind the bar… Sexual harassment happens to every female bartender at one time or another – and for some (or most!) on a daily basis. How you handle it is entirely up to you. It’s important though, for your tip’s sake, that you are able to recognize what is and is not worth just blowing off. Some guy telling you he thinks you’re sexy? Honestly, it is what it is in that case… It’s probably why you got the job in the first place, right? Embrace it. Have fun with it. It’ll probably increase your tip! Horny guys love to throw money at pretty lady bartenders that can play the game. However, if a patron or co-worker is persistent, and crosses the line of what you personally feel is appropriate, then it’s time to handle the situation in whatever way you see fit. How you handle this depends on where you work. Some environments promote a sexual playfulness… Other’s find it completely inappropriate to discuss the matter. It’s important to consider this before choosing where you’re going to work. If you’re a person that can “hang,” and have witty comebacks for the dirty talk, than more power to you. But if you have a more reserved personality, than a place like this probably isn’t the best fit for you.


FBC_Creepy_GuestWhat about that one creeper that won’t take a hint? It happens – probably more often that we’d like. I personally suggest that if (and only if) there is more than one bartender on duty when this happens, that you pass them off to your co-worker, and ignore this customer for the rest of their stay. It just eases the awkward tension of having to address them ever again, and for most, sends a pretty clear message that they’ve crossed the line. Also, I’m just throwing it out there right now for all the fellas – women DO indeed find it creepy when you constantly peruse them after she’s started to ignore you after some inappropriate comment you made. But no one reading this would ever do that, right? Lol… Right? Good… Back to the ladies – most of the time, this does the trick. If they continue though, or you’re alone behind the bar, just ask your manager to step in, and they will more than likely happily oblige. This does not however, mean you can use this “free pass” and pull the “manager card” ten times a shift – you’ll only look vulnerable and unable to handle your job, and will probably have your employer reconsidering your employment with them. It’s really important to learn how to handle sexual advances in a way that is appropriate for your work environment; and behind most bars, that means being playful with your clients. In my experience, and the experiences of some of my friends in the industry, the best way to handle a situation is to “go with it” while still keeping your distance, or a little bit of mystery about you, until AFTER they’ve paid their tab and tipped you… HINT: You will be asked for your number often. Find out the rejection hotline’s number in your area. Memorize it. Hand it out like candy on Halloween. My co-workers and I always do this for persistent guys, and it always seems to get the message across. It’s also especially funny if whatever man you’ve given “your number to” does that thing all guys love to do where they call you immediately to “make sure you have their number too”… The faces I’ve seen are priceless! And it saves you from that awkward “I’m just not feelin’ it speech;” no need to get involved if you don’t need to!


FBC_BartendersThis is also worth noting: beware of becoming involved with your regulars… Sometimes great things can come out of it, but often times, you can lose A LOT of business. Think before you act! But that’s clients… “Outsiders” to your place of employment. What happens when a co-worker or even a manager unwarrantedly crosses the line? It’s extremely common and fairly normal for a guy you bartend with to be playful with you – even in a sexual way. It’s also incredibly frequent for employees to be “involved” with each other in some capacity. If he’s cute, and you like him, and you’re employer is fine with inter-company relationships, then go for it and more power to you! But sometimes guys you bartend with may say uncomfortable things to you or completely overstep their boundaries, and that is totally NOT okay! First talk to him and tell him how you honestly feel, don’t try to be “nice” for the sake of working together peacefully – be honest and direct (“…cut it out, I think you’re acting like a creep” would suffice). If that doesn’t work, tell your manager and let them handle the situation. Pretty much everywhere has all kinds of employee protections in place for things like this… But what if the person causing you the discomfort is the person in charge – like your manager or even the owner of the establishment? This is a bigger issue all together.




FBC_Creepy_ManagerI lost a job once – a good job, because of a superior sexually harassing me. Although towards the end, I stood my ground and refused his advances, his threats of “taking me off the schedule” or “giving me undesirable shifts” ended up getting the better of me. In retrospect, I did not handle the situation the way I should have. I wasn’t honest about how it made me feel to hear him say the things he was saying to me – I just skated around what he was saying and changed the topic. I wanted to just keep my job and work my shifts in peace as I had been for several years. I was uncomfortable working with him because I felt that every time I came behind my bar, I was going to hear him say one disgusting thing to me after another. It ruined our professional relationship, and in the end, cost me my job; mostly because I let him push me around. I should have told someone – his superiors, a lawyer – anyone. The outcome may not have been different, but at least I know he wouldn’t be able to make other people how he made me feel day in and day out. I acted too late. Don’t let this happen to you… And if it already has, learn from it what you would do differently next time!

If a manger is trying to become involved with you, be careful – this almost always leads to trouble! Gauge his behavior and act accordingly, don’t let it go on until it is a huge problem and threatens your employment.



Hopefully this helps give some insight in to how female bartenders perceive advances and help all us ladies realize that we aren’t alone when it comes to guys that just can’t get enough of us! It’s how you handle these situations that make all the difference – so be safe, make money, and have fun with it!


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