Champion of Justice Saru Jayaraman to Be Honored For Workers’ Rights Activism
The award, to be presented at ERA’s luncheon on June 13, 2013, is given annually to a social justice advocate who embodies ERA’s mission to fight for women’s equality. This year’s luncheon focuses on issues of equal pay and wage justice, and marks the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.
Jayaraman is a founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a non-profit social justice organization that seeks to improve working conditions for food service workers. In February, Jayaraman published Behind the Kitchen Door, an exposé on poor working conditions in America’s restaurants.
“ERA’s fight for gender justice at work could not happen without visionary partners like Saru Jayaraman,” said ERA Executive Director Noreen Farrell. “Her incredible efforts on behalf of restaurant workers have exposed injustices faced by far too many low wage workers served by ERA. We honor the tireless advocacy of Saru and her colleagues at ROC for standing up to ensure that workers are paid fairly, are safe from harassment, and receive leave time when critical to their health or the health of their families. We thank Saru and ROC for helping us build a movement that promotes gender equity and justice for all workers.”
The United States food service industry employs 10 million workers, of which less than one percent are unionized, according to ROC-United. In Behind the Kitchen Door, Jayaraman combines personal narratives and investigative journalism to explore the “dark side of dining out”: discriminatory labor practices, exploitation, and unsanitary kitchens.
A graduate of Yale Law School and a frequent public speaker on the topic of low wage earners’ rights, Jayaraman currently serves as Director of Food Research at the University of California, Berkeley.