A study published last week called “The Glass Floor” revealed that nearly all female restaurant workers — an astounding 90% — have been sexually harassed while on the job.
“When you live off your tips you must tolerate whatever the customer might do to you — however they may touch you, or treat you, or talk to you — because the customer is always right.” Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director of ROC United, said yesterday in the New York City’s ‘Not On The Menu’ rally for One Fair Wage. “The customer pays your bills, not your employer.”
ROC United organised the rally that was held in various cities across the US on Tuesday. The New York City rally was held in the midst of public hearings held by the New York Wage Board, which is responsible for determining the future of the state’s minimum wage legislation.
ROC United is hoping to increase the federal tipped minimum wage, which hasn’t changed since 1991 and is a meager $US2.31. New York is one of 43 states with a sub minimum wage for tipped workers.
A minimum wage increase would obviously benefit all hourly workers, but especially women. Of the 11 million employees working in the restaurant industry, more than 70% are women, and because these women are making their living almost entirely off of tips, it makes them incredibly susceptible to sexual harassment, according to the study by ROC United.
Saru Jayaraman, founder of ROC United, speaking at #notonthemenu rally
Most of the restaurant workers who experience sexual harassment are too afraid to report the assault out of fear of negative consequences and job termination. This can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety as many workers feel forced to accept sexual harassment as ‘just part of the job,’ the report said.
“We will no longer tolerate that the price of a paycheck for women in the restaurant industry is getting groped, catcalled, or degraded,” said Noreen Farrell, Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates.
One Fair Wage is working towards “the financial insecurity and pressures that perpetuate sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.”
“I was a waitress almost 30 years ago for nine years. And here is the tragic story: absolutely nothing has changed,” said Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day and One Billion Rising, said to the rally. “We cannot end sexual violence against women unless we understand the role of economic violence — which is perpetuated by a sub-minimum wage for tipped, and overwhelmingly female, workers.”
For more information about One Fair Wage check out the ROC website here.
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