On February 13th, in honor of Valentine’s Day — the busiest day of the year for the restaurant industry — women’s rights leaders joined forces to hand out Valentine’s to servers at Olive Garden in Times Square and demand that all restaurants pay their tipped workers an actual wage: One Fair Wage.
Olive Garden’s parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc., is the largest full-service restaurant corporation in the world, the biggest employer of tipped restaurant workers in the country, and the key player behind freezing the federal minimum wage for tipped workers at just $2.13 per hour for nearly 25 years. Nationally, the majority of servers are women, and research shows that, as a direct result of being forced to live off tips, tipped restaurant workers endure sexual harassment at a rate five times higher than other industries.
That’s why ROC United’s co-founder/co-director Saru Jayaraman joined Eve Ensler (renowned feminist, Tony Award winning playwright and founder of V-Day as a global effort to end violence against women), Terry O’Neill (President of National Organization for Women), Teresa Younger (CEO of the Ms. Foundation), Ellen Bravo (Executive Director of Family Values @ Work), and many more #1FairWage supporters to tell Darden that a tip is not a wage. All workers deserve a living wage and no one should be forced to live off tips as their income.
Watch what happened inside Olive Garden in Times Square:
This is what happened after we left and continued to rally out front: