With nearly 37% of all sexual harassment charges –- more than 5 times the rate for the general female workforce — the restaurant industry is the single largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Since tipped minimum wages are usually so low that it amounts to $0 paychecks, the majority of a server’s take-home pay is what she earns in tips. This puts her at the mercy of customers often enduring inappropriate advances in order to make a tip. Here at ROC, hundreds of restaurant workers have told us about feeling powerless in the face of being groped and verbally harassed because their wages are so low that they can’t afford to stand up to customers.
It’s not a coincidence that the majority of tipped workers are women. In fact, servers are more than 70% women, meaning that the folks earning a base wage as low as $2.13 an hour (the federal tipped minimum wage since ’91) and living off tips are usually mothers, sisters, and daughters.
We’re raising awareness on this important issue by participating in next week’s White House Summit on Working Families. Our members from Chicago, DC, Miami and Houston will be there to represent the millions of restaurant workers who believe in a fair wage, fair scheduling, family and earned sick leave.
In our latest video for The LIVING OFF TIPS Campaign, current server and ROC-Michigan member, Aisha Thurman, and her two daughters tell us what it’s like living off tips and dealing with sexual harassment. Please watch and share this video, then share your story at livingofftips.com!