“American tipping is rooted in slavery — and it still hurts workers today”

“For female workers, the consequences of this system go far beyond low wages. That’s according to Saru Jayaraman, co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and author of the new book Forked: A New Standard for American Dining. As Jayaraman explains, with such low pay, female servers are forced to live completely off their tips — and to get those tips, are pressured to tolerate sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior from customers. In fact, the restaurant industry is the single largest source of sexual harassment claims in the US…
When the practice was brought to the United States in the 19th century, the American public was deeply uncomfortable with it. Many saw tipping as undemocratic and therefore un-American. A powerful anti-tipping movement erupted, fueled by the argument that employers, not customers, should be paying workers. But American restaurants and railway companies fought particularly hard to keep tipping, because it meant they didn’t have to pay recently freed black slaves who were now employed by those industries…
Europe eventually did away with tipping. But in America, pressure from powerful corporate interests resulted in a two-tiered wage system for tipped and non-tipped workers, institutionalizing a highly racialized system of economic exclusion. Formalized in 1938 in the first minimum wage law as part of the New Deal, this separate and unequal system stated that employers were not obligated to pay a base wage to workers whose minimum wage was met through tips”

^ prejudice has such shitty legacies.

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