Presidents Club Dinner: Hospitality workers on being harassed

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Incidents like the men-only charity dinner where waitresses were allegedly groped are more common than people realise, former hospitality workers have told Newsbeat.

Hostesses at the Presidents Club charity event in London were told to wear revealing outfits, it was revealed this week.

But it's not only at exclusive events where workers are harassed.

It's been reported in bars, pubs and cafe jobs across the UK.

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Media captionFinancial Times journalist Madison Marriage: “I was groped several times”

'Women were asked to wear lingerie'

Amy Fox from Cornwall was looking for work in "a normal pub in the middle of a town" in 2004.

Soon after starting she was told the venue would be hosting a "gentleman's night".

"I wasn't quite sure what that was at the time," Amy tells Newsbeat.

"The females who were working that night were asked to work in their underwear or put on lingerie.

"Once everybody was in the doors were locked and they brought out two women who they said were strippers."

Image copyright Amy Fox

Amy says she saw them perform "sexual acts" on the men attending.

"We were expected to go out and collect glasses and deliver drinks to tables where we were groped, had our bums pinched," she says.

"It was just a really awful, uncomfortable night."

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Media captionMPs are using the hashtag #StreetHarassment to get women talking about their experiences

'We had to wear skimpy shorts'

Emily Janes, 24, took a job in a London bar when she was a student, but was shocked at what she was expected to wear to work.

"We were given a vest with the name of the bar on, a pair of shoes and we were told we had to wear a pair of skimpy shorts or a skirt," Emily tells Newsbeat.

"Our hair would have to be down and either straightened or curled and we'd have to wear a full face of make-up.

People working at bars should be "well presented" but not forced to "dress provocatively", Emily says.

"We were told we had to wear red lipstick, if we didn't we'd be sent home," she says.

"That actually happened to one of the girls. She turned up without enough make-up on and they sent her home and told her not to bother coming back."

But harassment of female serving staff doesn't just happen where alcohol is involved.

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'It was important I was attractive'

24-year-old Amy from St Helen's was subjected to a similar experience when she got a job in a local cafe.

"The first thing the manager said was 'thank heavens you're attractive,'" she says.

On her first day in work, Amy was driven to a factory by her male boss.

Part of the job included delivering food to workers in factories and Amy was told to "wear as little clothes as possible" because of the summer temperature.

"It was full of males, he said it was very important I was attractive because he felt it would bring more custom," she says.

"He made a big fuss of getting all the lads round to look at me, introduce me and say I was going to be bringing the deliveries going forward."

Amy didn't go back for a second shift.

'There was lots of bum-grabbing going on'

Image copyright Amy McDonald

But while the Presidents Club incident highlights how women are treated in these circumstances, there are examples of men experiencing similar issues.

Amy McDonald from Derby says where she lives, there are ticketed events where women are served by topless men.

"I just don't see how we can be accepting of one, but not the other," she tells Newsbeat. "The whole subject needs to be talked about."

It happens when men are fully dressed as well.

"I used to work in a hotel where we hosted prosecco party afternoons aimed at the female market," says Aaron Judge.

"There was lots of bum-grabbing going on.

"It's fine on a night out and if it's just a few groups of girls, but when you're surrounded by them, they tend to be worse in numbers."

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