Fighting for Women's Equality

Leading Low-wage Women Worker Advocates Join Forces within Restaurant Industry

January 13, 2014 | by
Equal Rights Advocates and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), two of the leading national organizations working on behalf of low-wage women workers, have teamed together on a campaign to bring fairness to women restaurant workers across the country. The new initiative, the Access to Gender Justice Project, will support transformative change in the restaurant industry.

There are 10 million workers in the fast-growing restaurant industry, and the majority of them are women earning poverty-level wages. The problems that women restaurant workers face are many. Female restaurant workers cannot support their families making the minimum wage. Many make no more than the tipped minimum wage rate of $2.13 per hour in some states, or they are denied overtime or other compensation owed. Compounding these inequities is the fact that many women are denied access to higher-paying server jobs. They are also more likely to be victims of sex discrimination and harassment than workers in other industries. The Equal Employment Occupational Commission (“EEOC”) has identified the restaurant industry as the “single largest” source of sexual harassment claims.

With generous funding from the NoVo Foundation and other supporters, ERA and ROC United will work together to enforce the legal rights of women who face these injustices. ERA and ROC United will also cultivate women workers as leaders in their workplaces, expanding gender-conscious advocacy and supporting the new leaders in developing their own collective approaches to eliminating gender inequity. The project will not only provide the legal education and representation often denied to low-wage restaurant workers, it will serve as a model for uplifting and transforming other low-wage industries where women are disproportionately concentrated.

If you are a restaurant worker facing discrimination or wage injustices, please contact Equal Rights Advocates.

If you’re a member of the press and would like more information about the Access to Gender Justice Project, please contact Equal Rights Advocates Communication Manager Cynthia Foster.

Equal Rights Advocates is a national non-profit civil rights organization dedicated to expanding and protecting the rights of women and girls. Its unique hybrid strategy of litigation, direct legal services, policy reform, and public education has enabled it, over its 40 year history, to impact the lives of tens of thousands of women and girls from all walks of life.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United brings together 13,000 restaurant workers, 100 high-road employers, and thousands of engaged consumers to improve the wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce.

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