Prism/Daily Kos: Wage justice is racial justice—tipped workers deserve full minimum wage
August 13. 2020
ERA attorney and Director of our Equal Pay Today initiative Shannon Williams co-authored a piece published today by Prism & Daily Kos, Wage justice is racial justice—tipped workers deserve full minimum wage, with co-authors Fatima Goss Graves of National Women’s Law Center, and Angie Jean-Marie of Time’s Up.
Here is an excerpt:
Our federal law and 42 other states, in addition to New York, have allowed the legacy of slavery to persist and hold back the wages of Black women for generations. In fact, the subminimum wage for tipped workers was enshrined into law during the Jim Crow era because the restaurant industry didn’t want to pay newly freed Black workers. Instead, restaurant employers crafted a loophole so that tips from customers would count as wages and restaurant owners would be free from paying their Black workers a full minimum wage.
By any measure this is untenable and unjust—it was then and it is now. But it is especially so when considering that the majority of New York tipped workers today are women, and that tipped workers in casual restaurants are disproportionately women of color. Forcing women to live “tip-to-mouth” simply enshrines discrimination as public policy. The fact that Black female tipped workers make $7.95 per hour less than their white male counterparts can be traced to two facts: Women of color are segregated into more casual restaurants in New York, making less in tips than their fine dining counterparts, and customers tip Black workers less than white workers.