Forcing a bar waitress to have a customer drink alcohol off her belly without her consent is an indecent act as defined by Israel’s sexual harassment statute, the National Labor Court has ruled.
The precedent-setting decision followed an appeal by a waitress at the Mike’s Place seafront bar in Tel Aviv whom the court ruled was forced by her shift manager to engage in the practice known as a body shot.
The panel of three National Labor Court judges and two public representatives headed by the court’s president, Varda Wirth Livne, deemed the practice inherently humiliating to women, “particularly when carried out at a place of work, which should be a protected and safe location for the female employees there.”
The waitress, a new immigrant who has only been identified by her first initial, P., filed the appeal after the labor court for the Tel Aviv district ruled against her in the case.
Snow in Brazil, denial in Israel: Why extreme weather is the new normal. LISTEN
“There can be no other interpretation than that the body shot is an act of the most blatant sexual nature and that it is inherently by its character and nature an indecent act,” the National Labor Court ruled in overturning the lower court’s decision.
As described in the appeals court ruling, in 2017, P. was working as a waitress at Mike’s Place when she refused the shift manager’s demand that she take part in the body shot. He is said to have then tried to convince her to reconsider, and instructed patrons to lift her onto the bar.
P. was “embarrassed and confused by the situation that she was faced with and therefore didn’t physically resist,” the National Labor Court stated. “While lying on her back on the counter, the person responsible on the shift told her several times, ‘You have to do this,’ and added, ‘I won’t take no for an answer.”
- Dozens of Israeli public broadcaster employees allege sexual harassment, abuse and humiliation
- The answer to sexual harassment? More women in positions of power
The shift manager then sprinkled salt on her neck, ordered her to lift up her blouse and then turned to the customers saying, “They’re definitely going to fire me for this,” according to the court.
As the court put it, a customer then crawled onto the bar and licked the woman’s neck and then her belly, where a shot of alcohol had apparently been poured.
The shift manager then put a slice of lemon in P.’s mouth and directed a customer to remove it with his tongue, after which P. tried to get off the bar. But the shift manager pressured her to drink a body shot off a customer’s body while seated on a customer.
The shift manager pushed her head so that her lips were pressing against the customer’s belly. After she was released, she went onto the bar’s front porch and burst into tears, the court stated.
Following the incident, the waitress and one of the partners in Ripper Coffee, the company that owns Mike’s Place, reviewed security camera footage of the incident and the partner said she was enjoying herself. Still, he offered her compensation for dropping the matter, the court said.
It awarded P. 30,000 shekels ($9,300) in compensation from the shift manager and 120,000 shekels from Ripper Coffee.