Guide: which US restaurants pay sick leave, living wages? Which have institutionalized racism?

"Consumer Guide on the Working Conditions of American Restaurants" is a 30-page guide to working conditions in popular American restaurants, published by Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a worker-rights advocacy group. It tells you whether the staff at the restaurant you're thinking of eating at gives its staff sick-leave, whether they are paid beyond the $2.13 minimum wage for tipped workers, and whether the restaurant has a policy of limiting women, immigrants and people of color to lower-paid "back of the house" jobs.

Working with students from Tulane University and the University of Cali- fornia at Los Angeles, we asked restaurants about their practices with regard to:

a) wages for tipped and non-tipped workers;

b) paid sick leave and other benefits; and

c) opportunities for workers to move up the ladder.

We asked this information from all of our ‘high road’ restaurant partners in our eight current affiliate cities and from the top 150 highest revenue- grossing restaurants in America. Using the Restaurants & Institutions Top 400 list1, we identified the top 50 highest revenue-grossing restaurants in each of the industry’s three segments.

QUICK SERVE: fast food, delis, and any establishment without waiter service

CASUAL: full service restaurants with casual service

FINE DINING: higher-priced full-service restaurants2 Some restaurants did not provide us with all requested information. If any of these restaurants–or any other in America–can provide us with this information, we would be happy to update the Guide.

Consumer Guide on the Working Conditions of American Restaurants (PDF) (via The Pump Handle)


  1. Wow, I knew that waitresses were allowed to be paid less than minimum wage, but $2.13 an hour?  Those must be some tips.

    1. Not claiming that waitstaff are getting rich, but yes, typically they make well in excess of the minimum wage when tips are included.  That’s why there is the concern on whether minorities are being restricted from waiting on tables. The “back of the house” jobs like dishwashing and food preparation have higher salaries than waitstaff, but without the possibility of tips.

      1. You bring up a good point. Any time i’ve worked food service there was usually a “tip share” jar for them. I would always give some at the end of my shift. I don’t know how often the manager cleaned it out but some nights it seemed I was the only one that did it.

      2. Servers drive me nuts.  They’re the first to tell everyone about how they made 1000 dollars in one night and yet they never shut up about how broke they are.

    2. No, on average, I made about minimum wage, but there was no guarantee from week to week on whether or not I was going to make minimum wage that week or not. I am a firm believer in abolishing tipping and a tipped minimum wage.

  2. FWIW that $2.13 minimum wage thing is not applicable in California. Even tipped workers earn at least CA minimum wage which is $8.

    1. FWIW that $2.13 minimum wage thing is not applicable in California. Even tipped workers earn at least CA minimum wage which is $8.

      Is that new(ish)? I used to have a friend who was a lunch waiter at the not-very-high-end Tony Roma’s who was making about $40K a year in tips back in 2000.

      1. Federal minimums can be increased at the state level, although I have no idea what CA does. Everywhere I’m familiar with, the employer is required to give you enough variable pay to get you to standard minimum wage per hour (if your claimed tips and hourly-minimum come out to less than that per hour). Theoretically.

    1. In some cases, that’s already true. Many taxi drivers and exotic dancers, for instance, pay for the privilege to be there and hope that they make enough money to pay their costs.

      1. Taxi drivers are different. For one thing, they get to keep the fare not just the tip. They’re effectively self-employed- it’s just that depending on where (or when!)  they are their costs are either renting the cab or insurance, maintenance, depreciation, etc.

  3. I work in GA and the wage for servers is $2.13. Sadly, in the place where I work the tips aren’t all that great. I’ve discovered in my years as a server that a lot of people don’t know how to tip, and that’s mainly due to the misconception that we are paid a livable wage. I’ve had some great tips, don’t get me wrong, but it’s mostly OK tips. To be blunt $5 on $60 is not cool. Though I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. Some people, rarely, don’t tip at all.

    1. When I waited tables, I kept careful track of what kinds of people tended to tip the best. Here are my results, from best to worst:

      Blue collar workers on payday
      Large parties of friends
      People on dates
      People eating alone
      Husbands and wives together
      Husbands and wives plus kids
      Clergy (Identifiable by collars, conversation, or the religious tracts they “tipped” with)

      And strippers probably belong at the very top of the list. Although I never served strippers (that I know of) at the suburban restaurant where I waited tables, strippers always insisted on tipping me when I typeset their flyers at the downtown Kinko’s. And the people most likely to complain in an attempt to get things from Kinko’s for free? Clergy.

    2. I’m pretty sure that according to Georgia state law, if your $2.13 + tips don’t equal minimum wage for the hours you worked at the end of the night, your employer is legally required to pay you the difference.

      1. This is very true, however, I never said I didn’t make minimum wage. I said the tips aren’t that great.  A lot of my coworkers struggle to get by at times. Also, you should know that some restaurants hate doing this. I had a manager at another restaurant tell me that if they had to pay me the difference more than once I’d be fired.

      2. I’m pretty sure that according to Georgia state law, if your $2.13 + tips don’t equal minimum wage for the hours you worked at the end of the night, your employer is legally required to pay you the difference.

        This is true in many states. Also true: You can’t be fired for refusing to have sex with your boss, you get an x break when you work y hours, employers can’t discriminate based on age, race, or apparent gender when hiring.

        Yet all of these laws are broken more often than not.

        1. “you get an x break when you work y hours” I’ve never *ever* worked anywhere they actually followed this one. I mean, I know it exists, I’ve just never seen it applied. 

  4. Great resource, except one of the fonts failed to load.  The font they used for the ENTIRE document.  I can’t read dots!

  5. As someone from Michigan, is is great to see how many of the award winning restaurants are located in Detroit and Ann Arbor. Places such as Slows BBQ, Avalon Bakery, and La Petite Zinc in Detroit are well established, have amazing food, and seem to be doing very well. I think this is proof that a well run business can treat it’s employees right even in an economically impoverished area and still come out ahead. Bottom line capitalism might be simpler, but it is not the only way to go.  Now, on the other hand, it is sad to see how few restaurants overall are award winning or meet any of the basic requirements.

  6. I’m a little skeptical of a ratings system which includes participation in roundtables run by the ratings agency. If you look at the rating for Freshii, it manages to do just as well as In-N-Out even though it pays less and doesn’t give sick days just because it goes to these roundtables.

  7. The study that might help people understand why universal health care is a good thing for everyone might be measuring disease transmission/food poisoning in restaurants where workers have health insurance and those who don’t.  

    1. My God, yes. I can’t tell you how many times I went to work with a cold or the flu. Even when I had pink eye. I just put on a pirate patch and pretended it was because of a vaguely related dinner promotion that we were running. The other waitstaff passed around strep like mad, although I never got it. (I seem to be immune.) My daughter got it and several of my regular customers did, as well. It’s just insane, the number of people that we probably made ill because we couldn’t afford to stay home.

      And before people start talking about how a day’s wages aren’t that much, the deal is that the common restaurant policy is that you can’t call in without a doctor’s note, which you can’t get without a doctor.

  8. As I get older the more I wish there was a separate tipping system for the service and the food.  Many times I’ve had bad food, but excellent service.  I usually still leave a reasonable tip, and sometimes depending on the problem I talk with a manager about it.  Sometimes the kitchen is just having an off day and there is no need to take it out on your wait staff if they are doing their jobs.

    1. Telling the wait staff that the food isn’t okay, is not taking it our on them, or is it? 

      I mean it’s not their fault when I order a rare steak and get one well past medium.  

      1. No, telling them is good. Not tipping the $2.13 worker based on the incompetence of the $11.00 cook is taking it out on them.

        On the other hand, it’s not your job to tip for a crappy meal, or to make sure that the wait staff makes a living wage.

        1. I read his posts a little different and was kinda confused. 

          Of course, I never paid for a crappy meal, either – the few times I was served anything like that, I got treated by people who wouldn’t know a gourmet meal from a Big Mac. (And I do not refer to Big Mac – those can come in great and crappy alike.)

    2. It is already separated. when you tip, you tip only for the service because and that’s the reason why waiters are only making $2.13/hour. The tip money only goes to the people who work on providing you good service.

      You pay for the food with your bill. So if the food isn’t good, tell our server. Any half decent place will re-do it or you, and a server worth their tips will take care of the problem. Point is, keep in mind tips are for service, not both. (And bills are for food and chefs, not waiters)

  9. All employees in the US, with a few minor exceptions, are required to be paid the federal minimum wage (or state minimum wage).  If the server’s $2.13 per hour plus tips does not equal or exceed the federal minimum wage, the employer is required to increase their hourly rate until it does meet the minimum.

    1. This is true in many states. Also true: You can’t be fired for refusing to have sex with your boss, you get an x break when you work y hours, and employers can’t discriminate based on age, race, or apparent gender when hiring.

      Yet all of these laws are broken more often than not.

  10. On first glance, this looks like a list of national chain restaurants, all of which fail, and local restaurants in $some_other_city, all of which pass, get awards, and are coincidentally advertisers in this brochure.


    1. Yes. Executive Summary: All restaurants you’ve heard of or are near you fail entirely. A few boutique establishments that happen to be members of the organization that compiled the list pass with flying colors.

      1. Is it that surprising that major national chains who compete with each other will settle down to the lowest common denominator of compensation and policies for employees?  It is like the dinosaurs slugging it out with each other while the little mammals (the boutiques) scurry about doing their own thing.

  11. What a great list of places with good practices that I’ve never heard of, and places with crummy practices I’ve got on every street corner.  Five Guys is the only well-rated place here that I’ve got near me.  Though I try to eat at local restaurants when I can — enough local places have gone out of business that I feel like I need to support the ones that are still hanging on.

  12. I’d be very happy to see the workers paid regular wages and have the tip system go away.  I’m not a cheapskate – I eat out a lot and I consider myself a good tipper, but with the expected tip percentage having increased from 15% to 18% to 20%, while the food prices themselves continue to shoot up, it’s getting unmanageable.  A $15 tip on a $75 family meal is just too much for what probably totals no more than  5-10 minutes of service (and frequently a lot less).

    As I see it, raising salaries while keeping tips will drive up the food costs even more (as restaurants pass on the extra expense) plus also increase the amount paid in tips, again, by the customer.   This is only going to decrease restaurant demand as eating out becomes prohibitively expensive.

    1. A $15 tip on a $75 family meal is just too much for what probably totals no more than  5-10 minutes of service (and frequently a lot less).

      You probably don’t realize that your waiter put together your salad and your dessert, among other things.  They do more than just carry everything to your table.

      1. Salads and desserts aren’t usually a big part of our eating out.  Typically it’s 5 entrees plus sodas and an appetizer.  If there’s a salad involved, it’s usually a fancy entree-type one that the kitchen would handle. Salads and desserts would likely add another $50 or so to my bill and $10 to the tip, so we’re still talking me paying $25 for 10-20 min work.

        1. It’s not the literal time it takes your server to do those specific things. If you have a good server, your table is on their mind during your entire visit – does anyone need a refill? Napkins? Everything ok so far? Not to mention the needs/wants of however many other tables/tasks they have to carry at that moment. Yes, these are all parts of the job description – but please don’t underestimate them simply because you have never done them.

          When I was a server, protocol was to seat the guest – give them a few minutes with a menu – come back and take drinks/appetizer order (sometimes drink order taken while seating, score for saving a step!) – put appetizer order in to chef – come back out, take entree order – fetch and deliver appetizer after entering in entree order – deliver entree order…then check twice, once shortly after food is delivered, then once again after a reasonable amount of time, to ensure customer’s needs…etc etc etc, through every attitude a customer could give you, any possible situation, any time you’re on the floor…

          …so you see, it’s not just the time it takes to walk between the kitchen and your table a few times, salad or not. You’re going to a sit-down joint because you want someone to take care of you and your four other people while you eat – and you can’t see your way to giving them 15% of the total bill? You tip the person who cuts your hair, and I remember a time when people would leave a tip for the garbage man around this time of year. People tip cabbies, doormen, and bartenders…but the people who handle your food should somehow suck it up?

          Fun Fact: In IL, tipped employees are still required to pay taxes on those tips. Guess where they get the tax money? Right out of their paycheck. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you’re getting enough tips per hour to make up the difference between your actual hourly rate – ie, 2.13 – and the local minimum wage.

          Finally: Sure, there may be a couple hour rush for dinner or lunch. The rest of the time? A few tables here and there, and LOTS of sidework. Roll silverware, stock the service station, stock condiments, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. All of which is being paid at – yep! The hypothetical 2.13. So yeah, the dinner rush I covered last Friday will make up for the Tuesday afternoon where I didn’t get but 4 tables all night.

          tl;dr: Serving isn’t just bringing you shit. Don’t be a dick. Tip your waitstaff.

          1. I’m always interested in this argument (and make no mistake, it is always an argument) because of well-reasoned comments like yours. And I agree with you, that under the conditions as they exist today, one should tip waiters and other service personnel.

            But – I don’t believe that, fundamentally, people in these service jobs should be tipped. I think they should be paid a decent wage to begin with – the difference being passed on to the customer, of course. That’s what this argument boils down to – nobody (I hope) thinks that wait staff shouldn’t be paid a decent wage, and no one thinks the customer shouldn’t pay for it (I mean,  how else would it work). But why is the customer responsible for determining what that decent wage should be?

            I get that this gives some power to the customer – you can adjust your tip depending on how good the service is. But it seems to me that when people receive bad tips, they don’t think it’s because they gave bad service, they think it’s because the customers are douchebags. People who are “supposed” to get tips feel entitled and lose sight of what tips are supposed to be for. Far more effective would be a system where, instead, the thing to do if you get bad service is to talk to the manager.

            The most pleasant service people to deal with tend to be those who are well-paid and who don’t accept tips and don’t receive commissions. Places with such policies (including food places) are the places I’m most likely to spend my money. The tip-based system is, in my view, way outdated – and it’s miserable for all involved parties!

            And those service people who are in a position to occasionally get huge tips? Even if tips were no longer considered compulsory, there will still be huge tips given for truly exceptional service, or as a form of bribery (like tipping the bartender so you get good service later when the bar gets more crowded).

          2. “and you can’t see your way to giving them 15% of the total bill?”

            What?  Did you read what I wrote?  Jeez.  Pick someone else for your strawman.

        2. Servers usually complete your plate as well, in addition to completing a whole host of side work that you don’t see, because it’s done when they’re done waiting tables. Sidework includes cleaning and refilling everything on your table, cleaning your table and booth, vacuuming, wrapping silverware, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning and refilling the salad bar, making new coffee, fixing the soda machine, cleaning said beverage machines… I could go on for hours.

          At the end of the day, I agree that the tip system needs to go away. Forever. The employer needs to pay the employee, and the customer needs to pay the business a fair price for their products and services.

    2. Well, there’s also expert knowledge of the ingredients and preparation (at least they should), wine knowledge and pairing recommendations, communication with the kitchen (for proper preparation – especially for special orders), knowledge of how to best order to get the best deal.
      Depending on the type of customer, there is the hospitality factor. Such as a funny anecdote, or just being friendly and sociable. They are the ones who facilitate the entire experience, making sure you don’t see the enormous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. (Well… the good ones, at least.)

      Then, don’t forget, that your server isn’t keeping all of that $15. There is also tipout to server assistants, bussers, and bartenders. (possibly even management) Then of course there’s taxes. (and the government assumes you are making at
      least 10% of your sales, and will tax you on it regardless.) At the end of the day, they may be walking 60% of the tips they made. Your $15 may actually be $9.

      True, there are good servers and bad servers. But 5-10 minutes of service in no way describes what an average server does. No one thinks a musician spent 3 minutes to make a 3 minute song, do they?

    3. 5-10 minutes of service…. plus, setting up the restaurant to open, then to close, cleaning and resetting the table you ate at, polishing the silverware and folding the napkins you used, keeping all the little stuff like sugar and ketchup and salt and pepper filled etc. I always hate the thoughtless “well they only worked for like 5 minutes” argument.

      Also please consider that serving tables is at best uneven employment by nature. While you might have a 4 table section it won’t stay full they whole night, and you have to count on people unaccustomed to the dining experience etc. The bottom line is, %18-20 is PART OF THE PRICE of the meal. You are paying for the service of not having to care for yourself for a meal. The price of the meal is the price of the food plus the inherent price of the service.

  13. I’d like to have seen a category for manipulation of scheduled worker hours. In addition to being able to pay workers poorly, chain restaurants often use a tactic of scheduling employees just below the 40 -hour/week threshold, in order to avoid things like overtime pay or other benefits. My son works third-shift at a 24-hour burger chain. They had him come in on his day-off on Thanksgiving night because they normally get huge crowds of shoppers because of Black Friday. In order to keep him under the overtime threshold, though, they cut his regularly-scheduled shift three days later.

    1. My son works third-shift at a 24-hour burger chain. They had him come in on his day-off on Thanksgiving night because they normally get huge crowds of shoppers because of Black Friday. In order to keep him under the overtime threshold, though, they cut his regularly-scheduled shift three days later.

      I’m guessing this isn’t the case where you are, but in Ontario, you get paid time-and-a-half on holidays that you work (plus everyone gets paid for the day whether they worked that day or not).

      1. That is how they always do it. I worked at a 24 hour fast food chain the the longest shift they would schedule for a non-manager was 7.5 hours which after 30 minute lunch meant you worked 7 hours.

        1. USA agricultural workers, via federal statute, do not have to be paid overtime until after 60 hours are worked in a one-week period.

  14. Tip credit varies wildly by state.  Some states do pay substantially below minimum wage, with an expectation that wait staff will make it up in tips (employer must make up difference, but if you aren’t making it yourself you will likely be fired).  Some states, like here in OR, don’t have tip credit at all & wait staff makes a minimum of $8.50/hour, + tips, a great deal of which are non-reported & thus ‘tax free’.  People think I’m cheap because I won’t tip 20% like everyone seems to think is appropriate.  I just don’t think my waiter should be making substantially more than I am.  4 tables, 1 $20 ticket/hour, 20% tip on each is 32.50/hour for say 2 hours of the rush.  Even distributed over the other 4-6 hours of the shift this is a decent wage, & more than I’m making right now.

    1. why take it out on waiters because you aren’t paid enough? what you make has no bearing on what they make. or is it because you think they are low class, and therefore ought to be low wage workers?

      1. I’m not taking it out on them.  I’m kind, considerate, treat them well, and don’t leave a big-ass mess behind for them to clean up.  Waiting tables in OR is a $15-$20/hour job.  The idea that wait staff are underpaid & have to be tipped heavily is a lie, at least here in OR.  When I visit my parents, who live in a state where wait staff make about $3.50/hr to start, I tip a higher percentage.  And yes, I’ve worked many years waiting tables.  In many restaurants, a decent waiter can make more than the management.

    2. You’re leaving out the party of 8 who decided not to tip, and the parties who think that 5% is a reasonable tip. Not everyone tips 20%, not by a long shot.

    3. If you can’t afford to tip you can’t afford to eat out, and please don’t imagine otherwise. I suggest groceries and

  15. “. . . whether the restaurant has a policy of limiting women, immigrants and people of color to lower-paid `back of the house” jobs.’?  Ahem.  If anyone anywhere has evidence that any specific restaurant and/or restaurant chain is discriminating based on any federally protected class– including but not limited to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, and so forth– let them present it, that the full weight of law enforcement may grind the bastards into powder.

    If there is no such evidence, alleging that “the restaurant has a policy” along these lines is, at a minimum, rude.

      1. This is a pretty typical smug know-it-all response.  Pee pee doo doo no proof needed, I know the truth!!!

    1. The feds won’t touch ’em if they’re small enough – businesses with fewer’n 15 employees are exempt from federal race discrimination laws (as well as most other discrimination laws except gender). For those you must rely on state agencies (which are almost invariably deferential to business owners) or civil court (expensive, stressful, and time-consuming).

      1. Good point.  Most of the entries in the guide are for national or regional chains, though, which presumably will have 15+ employees and so be subject to Federal prosecution.  (In the subsample I looked closely at, at least.  Pages 10-11 of the guide have 20 entries; 16 are “National”, and one each of “West”, “East”, and “South.”  Pages 12-13 also have 20 entries: 13 “National”, and one each of “Northeast”, “California”, and “West Coast”.)

    2. You don’t have to have a policy for things to just…happen.

      I’ve worked in enough restaurants to know – the pretty skinny white girls are hostesses and bartenders, cute guys will do if no girls available, middle aged women and some cute guys as servers, and minorities in the kitchen. Mexican dishwasher? Check. African-American prep cook? Gotcha. Policy? Nowhere in sight.

      People will take work where they can get it, especially if they’re dishwashers or prep cooks. The employers have everyone’s balls in a vice – and everyone knows it. What ya gonna do?

      1. I’ve worked in enough restaurants to know – the pretty skinny white girls are hostesses and bartenders, cute guys will do if no girls available, middle aged women and some cute guys as servers, and minorities in the kitchen. Mexican dishwasher? Check. African-American prep cook? Gotcha. Policy? Nowhere in sight.

        Hilariously true, except that in San Francisco, the kitchen staff is Chinese, even if it’s a Mexican restaurant, and in Southern California, the kitchen staff is Mexican, even if it’s a Chinese restaurant. Restaurants are one of the most obvious examples of a caste system.

    3. Right, because a restaurant that routinely limits people to those lower-paid “back of the house” jobs is going to be stupid enough to make it written policy. People that engage in this kind of shit are not comic book supervillains leaving their extensively-illustrated plans lying around for the hero to find. The policy becomes an unwritten rule and the owners make sure everyone follows it. Unless they want to find themselves fired for reasons which may or may not be made up on the spot to justify their firing.

      1. Indeed.  Thing is, findings of discrimination can be and are made without there being any sort of formal written policy entered into evidence; other forms of evidence are fine, too.  But this other evidence does have to exist.  (A law firm in Ohio has a list of the sorts of things they’ve found useful: .) 

        Incidentally, there is a national restaurant chain that has written policies that would ordinarily be considered discriminatory: Hooters.  Their argument– which has carried the day, thus far– is they’re allowed to do so per  “Bona fide occupational qualifications”; see .

      1. I don’t believe that’s the case.  Looking at page 4 of the guide, they’re not claiming to have undertaken a general survey of employees, but rather to have asked the restaurants for data directly: “Working with students from Tulane University and the University of California at Los Angeles,* we asked restaurants about their practices with regard to: a) wages for tipped and non-tipped workers; b) paid sick leave and other benefits; and c) opportunities for workers to move up the ladder.  We asked this information from all of our ‘high road’ restaurant partners in our eight current affiliate cities and from the top 150 highest revenue- grossing restaurants in America. . . . Some restaurants did not provide us with all requested information.”

        1. NO PAID SICK LEAVE 90% of the more than 4,300 restaurant workers surveyed by the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) report not having paid sick leave, and two-thirds report cooking, preparing, and serving food while sick, making sick leave for restaurant workers not only a worker rights issue but a pressing concern in public health!

          OCCUPATIONAL SEGREGATION Women, immigrants, and people of color hold lower-paying positions in the industry, and do not have many opportunities to move up the ladder. Among the 4,300 workers surveyed, we found a $4 wage gap between white workers and workers of color, and 73% reported not receiving regular promotions on the job.

          4,300 restaurant workers who were asked about their sick leave and segregation disagree with you.

          It makes sense to ask restaurants about their written policies directly, and then to compare that to how workers report that things actually work.

          1. Those are general statements about the industry, apparently drawn from some of ROC’s previous work: .  Unfortunately, even if we figure the survey reflects reality well, they don’t serve to identify any particular restaurant or restaurant chain as practicing discrimination.  (Sick leave is, as they note, a public health issue, and a potentially serious one– but it’s not a discrimination issue.)

            There’s no doubt but that discrimination is taking place; discrimination takes place in all industries.  From the anecdotes I’ve heard, I’d expect discrimination to be particularly common in the restaurant/hospitality fields.  But when it comes to identifying villains, we need specifics.  Further, we need evidence of these specifics.  We have to (I argue) make sure the alleged villains really are the villainous ones– lest we inadvertently drive neutrals or good guys out of business, while continuing to patronize the true villains and thus aiding them to prosper.

            This is a hard problem; we’re talking about determining whether or not an organization is doing something that’s generally held to be immoral, and is definitely held to be illegal.  But that this is a hard problem means we have to be more careful, not less.

          2. many good or neutral people utterly freak out and become irrationally angry when you point out that they’re supporting a racist caste system in their workplace, and deny it’s happening even though it plainly is happening, and all the denying and protestations of being “nice” don’t change the truth of the result. 

          3. It won’t let me reply to you, so I’m replying to me.

            You said: If anyone anywhere has evidence…

            Not: ” If this brochure presents any evidence.”

            If you want more evidence, peruse this thread, where people have been relating their lived experiences. Ignoring this information because people who do studies don’t give a crap about minority dish washers is, at a minimum, rude.

            Sick leave is, as they note, a public health issue, and a potentially serious one– but it’s not a discrimination issue.

            My comment was in response to your claim that they had not questioned workers.

            From the anecdotes I’ve heard… we need evidence…

            Anecdotes, more properly known as testimonies, are considered evidence under the law.

          4. (I’m experiencing the same sort of can-only-reply-to-certain-posts thing…)

            I absolutely agree that the anecdotes we’re seeing in these comments constitute good information to have.  Thing is, they’re not coming from ROC.  All I see from ROC is a survey including notes about inequities but not including specifics about where they are, and a “guide” that names specific places but isn’t based on questioning workers about how things are in those places.  (Except inasmuch as management counts as a kind of worker, and ROC asked management to provide them with information about their organization as a whole.)  Given that, the guide does not tell “whether the restaurant has a policy of limiting women, immigrants and people of color to lower-paid `back of the house’ jobs.”

            This is not for lack of trying to imply that it does.  The guide notes that occupational segregation exists in the industry, and then has a column in its table for “Opportunities for advancement”– but that column is based not on asking workers about their experiences in the corresponding organization, but on this criterion: “A restaurant receives an upward mobility symbol in this category if 50% or more of its current employees have moved up in position. If the restaurant has not provided at least 50% of its employees a promotion, it has a 0 listed.”  50% is a high number; a place with a broad and shallow organizational structure will have over 50% of its employees in the bottom echelon, and so couldn’t achieve this criterion even if ALL its higher-ranked workers had been promoted from within.  (And of course, many people advance in their careers by switching workplaces.  For instance, a line cook might be ready to become a sous chef well before an opening for another sous chef exists in the line cook’s own workplace.  Rather than waiting an indeterminable amount of time, they jump to another place that does have such an opening, parting amiably.)  Hence, I fear presence or absence of that up-arrow icon is more likely to have to do with semantic weaseling about “promotion” than anything else– for instance, counting going from trainee to regular employee as a “promotion”.

  16. What has not been noted in the discussions about how much waitstaff might make per hour, is that they often work 1-2 hours before AND after waiting tables doing sets and closing duties. These hours incur no tipping because they are not waiting tables but are rolling flatware, restocking condiments, sweeping, polishing, etc. I have always tipped knowing that many waiters have kids, bills and get no benefits. Not to mention they have to deal with douche bags pretty much every shift.

  17. Not that I ever needed a reason to avoid Olive Garden or Red Lobster, but the notes about those two don’t surprise me.
    And it’s certainly no shock that in general, the large, soulless chains don’t fair well in the critique.  They are all about ONLY the bottom line first, not making good food or providing good jobs..

  18. I worked at a Shoney’s one summer. My job was stocking the salad bar. Since I wasn’t technically wait staff I got paid minimum wage. I think this was the case with the cooks as well. Busboys had to rely on tips–tips they had to share with the waitresses. 

    Random customers were given evaluations to fill out. If a waitress got a bad evaluation it was posted in the break room with notes from the manager written on it.  Here’s what I found really appalling, though: if there was any delay, no matter the reason, the manager reprimanded the waitress. If the kitchen was slow it was the waitress’s fault. If the customer asked that their food be held for a few extra minutes so they could get a salad from the salad bar first the manager reprimanded the waitress. If the cook overcooked a steak the manager reprimanded the waitress. I asked a manager about this and was told that because waitresses were the “public face” of the restaurant they were expected to take responsibility even for things they couldn’t control.

    It seemed grossly unfair. Waitresses were responsible for everything, and they had to prepare desserts (apparently that job was beneath the cooks) but they got paid less than minimum wage. And that Shoney’s had a large enough staff on rotating shifts that the managers made sure nobody came even close to working forty hours a week. Thirty hour weeks were standard, but twenty and twenty-five hour weeks weren’t unusual. I don’t know how most of them got by. I still wonder. On the very rare occasions that I eat at a Shoney’s restaurant, though, I always leave a generous tip.

  19. I work at one of the restaurants that was rated with all zeroes. Ironically, it’s one of the largest and most successful chains in the country (US). I don’t LOVE my job, but I’ve had a lot worse in the past. It’s the only restaurant that I’ve ever worked at, save for a Six Flags burger stand when I was still in high school. I am 27 years old, and I make 2.13/hour if I wait tables, and 5/hour if I bartend. There is a “Tip Share” program in place for the bartenders and bussers. The servers are “taxed” something like 3.5% of their total sales. This money comes out of their tips. The bussers get the 3% while the bartenders get the .5%. At most, I’ve recieved $70 from this share, but I’ve also recieved as little as $10 for a full closing shift’s work. First, I do the same work every night in the bar. I take care of the guests, first and foremost, I mix drinks, pour beer etc, and then I close and clean the bar, which typically takes about 3 hours if I’m doing it by myself (which is 4 days out of the week). Cleaning every inch of that bar, for what amounts to just above minimum wage is NOT fair. When I get no customers, less than five dollars in my tip jar, ten to fifteen on tipshare, and $5/hour…
    Tip share itself is an unfair practice. I used to make 7.50/hour behind the bar, some of the other bartenders who had been there for 10+ years were getting paid well over 12/hour thanks to the raises we used to get during reviews. Same story with the bussers. Since the tip share went into effect, ALL bussers and bartenders got bumped down to 5/hour, regardless of how much time they’d been employed.
    In my opinion, when a customer gives me a tip, he is giving that money to me. The restaurant should have NO say what I do with that money, especially if they’re only paying me 2.13/hour. This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t tip out my bussers and bartenders. In fact, since the tip share program went into effect at my restaurant, I STILL will tip out a little bit more than I’m required to, because I KNOW how little we’re all getting paid. I KNOW that the standard of living has fallen for all of us. I simply do not like being told what to do with MY money.
    There was a comment earlier, saying that servers will boast about making “1000” dollars in a shift, but complain about how broke we are. First of all, I’ve never seen anyone walk with 1000 dollars in a night. I know ONE server who has reached a 300 dollar mark. Last year. On Black Friday. He worked 12 hours, without a break. He’s also got 2 kids and a pregnant wife, so I understand his motivation. Most servers at my restaurant, on an average weekday, will pull about 30 – 70 dollars a day on top of their 2.13/hour. We never even see that 2.13 though, because it’s all taken out by taxes. The end of the week, the managers will hand us a paycheck for $0.00. When a server does make over $100 dollars in a night, you’re damn right we’re boasting! It feels good to finally make the money you feel you deserve. The reason we come back to the restaurant the next day and complain that we’re broke is because we took that hundred bucks we just made, and put it toward rent. Or food. Gas. Bills. Kids. Rarely do we get to spend that money on things that we want. Like doctor and dentist visits.
    My health insurance is shit. I’m currently dodging debt collectors because I can’t pay for the dentist visit I had six months ago, after both the dentist and the insurance company told me I was covered. I think I might have a male yeast infection, but I’m too scared to go to the doctor, because I know that my insurance isn’t going to cover all of the visit, and I don’t have the money just laying around to pay for it. Until I get this dentist bill straightened out, I just hope and pray that I don’t get any more sick.
    After this holiday season, I’m going to be looking for new employment, and I will never again work at a restaurant.

    1. Wow those tips are horrible! I made more than that a shift working as a waitress in a truck stop. A typical shift for me was about $150 in tips but could be more if it was a busy night like Friday or Saturday. The slow nights were $75 ish. I never did anything like 1k in a shift but I figured the ritzy steak houses must be given what I made. Still think it’s crap, the tip sharing idea. I totally agree…the customer thinks YOU are getting the money. What you choose to do with it is up to you, but you are taxed on the assumption that you got it, not a tip jar.

  20. If you want to make good tips, pay close attention to the neighborhood and the type of demographic that frequents that establishment. When I lived in Orlando I first bartended at a restaurant that catered to tourists. Since many of them were from countries where tipping wasn’t customary, servers and bartenders got stiffed frequently. The customers were nice, but they just didn’t know about tipping. I then figured that I should instead work at a place that is frequented by locals. It was a smart move. Since many locals in Orlando work in the service industry, they tipped quite generously.

  21. “There’s class warfare, all right, Mr. (Warren) Buffett said, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

    “There has been class warfare going on,” Buffett, 81, said in a Sept. 30 interview with Charlie Rose on PBS. It’s just that my class is winning. And my class isn’t just winning, I mean we’re killing them.”

    I read several comments at other message boards today where posters declared how immigrants from 3rd-world countries can make HUGE amounts of money in the USA and asked why you obviously lazy want-it-all-handed-to-you life-long USA citizens are unable to do the same.

    No examples or links offered, just assertions that what they had posted was the TRUTH and anybody with any intelligence should also know the TRUTH.

    I view that type of comment poster as a mere brainwashed by the elite class and corporate USA ill-educated typical citizen-sheep.

    What say you? my fellow non-elite commonr scum We, the People citizens?

  22. This is a good example of why I damn-near-never go to restaurants. It’s bad enough that the owners are externalizing almost all of their labor costs onto me, but then they can’t even attempt to not treat their employees like shit?

  23. A local restaurant had some labor issues recently, with payments being owed for a long period of time.  The employees who were concerned went to a local worker’s organizing groups, and they put up flyers all over the neighborhood telling people not to go to the restaurant.

    Within a week or two the labor issues were resolved to the satisfaction of all parties and the flyers came down.  It’s amazing what a small group of organized people can accomplish if they set their minds to it.

  24. It seems like it would be a helpful addition to, for a future edition, add a table showing the minimum wage laws in different states. In many western states, at least, servers are guaranteed minimum wage.

  25. I was raised to tip at 20%. For one, the math is easier than 18%. For another, we’ve always had waitstaff in the family, so we knew that people didn’t get the tips they deserved. And finally, the results of tipping well have always supported my continuing to do so. Usually, if you tip well, and I think especially if you don’t look like a person who should tip well, your waiter/waitress will remember you. For instance, I can afford to eat at a sit-down restaurant once about every 2 months. I like to go to this sushi restaurant when I can. I have shellfish allergies, and my waiter (whose name is Justin) knows all about them, so he always gets the chef to make me my favorites with different types of fish substituted for the shellfish. And, he always charges me less, because he says salmon and tuna cost the restaurant less than shrimp and crab. I started tipping him 20% but now I always round up a dollar or two, just because he is so attentive (plus, I am saving on what I would pay at another establishment when I ask to have the shellfish substituted…that money may as well go to the guy getting me the deal). 

    And for those of you thinking that only the 1% (or top 50% or whatever) can afford to tip at 20%, I am a graduate student. Because I am in health-related research, I am fortunate enough to make a small living stipend and have my tuition paid for, but it’s not like I’m making starting salary for a position in my field that I could garner after my undergraduate education. But, I budget my groceries well, don’t use credit cards so that I don’t incur interest on my purchases, and when I go to a restaurant, I tip with someone like me in mind–someone who works a lot of hours and doesn’t make minimum wage when it’s divided up. Make no mistake, most discoveries are made by graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, but it’s the big boss who gets the credit because his writing funds the lab. For their education level, post-doctoral researchers are probably the least well-paid individuals on the planet, but they do it because they love it. When I see a waiter/waitress who is truly attentive, I like to believe that they like to make my night out really hassle free, and I like for them to get paid for doing so. After all, it’s one night where (a) I do nothing to prepare the food (b) I get to talk extensively with the people I am eating with (c) I am checked upon all evening and (d) I DON’T HAVE TO DO THE DISHES. That’s worth at LEAST 20%.

    Confession: I once tipped less than 20% (12%) in college, because I asked the waiter to return my food (I ordered a veggie burger and was given a real one). She must have had a bad night because she through her pen down and slammed her notebook into my face (it didn’t hurt so much as surprise me to be touched forcefully by the waitress). I don’t pay my waitress to assault me. Looking back, I probably still should have given her at least 15%, because she was likely pushed to her breaking point by my drunken college counterparts at the table one over long before she ever took my order. At that time, you could pay for your food (but not tips) on your college card at this sit-down restaurant. She likely was not tipped at all by all of the disorderly men she had to care for. I might be a bit grouchy after that too.

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