All Publications
Behind The Kitchen Door – A Multi Site Study Of The Restaurant Industry

Behind the Kitchen Door: A Multi-site Study of the Restaurant Industry

On February 14th, 2011, in conjunction with three local ROC chapters, ROC-United released Behind the Kitchen Door: A Multi-site Study of the Restaurant Industry, an overview of conditions in the restaurant industry nationwide through studies in eight regions throughout the country.  The research included more than 4000 surveys, 240 employer interviews, 240 worker interviews, and government data analysis.  The findings illustrated the great need for reform that can achieve a sustainable industry in which workers, employers, and diners can prosper together.


  • The average yearly income for restaurant workers nationwide in 2009 was $15,092, compared to $45,155 for the total private sector.  Each locality reported between 9% and 22% of workers earning a livable wage.
  • 87.7% of workers nationwide do not have paid sick days.
  • Almost half of restaurant workers (46.3%) have experienced overtime violations.
  • Racial discrimination is widespread in the restaurant industry.  28% of workers that have been passed over for a promotion reported that it was based on race.  This discrimination is reflected in workers’ wages, as the median wage for white workers is $13.25 compared to $9.54 for workers of color.
  • 34.6% of workers reported having to do things under time pressure that may     have harmed the health and safety of the consumer.
Download the National Executive Summary here

Media Coverage