Black restaurant staff tipped lower than others throughout the pandemic

A waiter wears a face mask in an outdoor dining area outside of a restaurant during a snow storm on December 16, 2020 in New York City.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate socioeconomic inequalities, black restaurant workers are feeling the impact, according to a new report.

During the pandemic, tips for workers in black restaurants have declined more than tips for workers in other racial groups, according to a report by advocacy group One Fair Wage. Almost 90% of black workers said their tips had decreased by 50% or more. For comparison: 78% of all employees stated that their tips had decreased by that much.

Approximately 4,100 workers in five states and Washington, DC responded to the survey, which was conducted by phone and email from October through January.

Although black workers make up the majority of the tipped service industry, they are also the lowest earners, according to the report, which examined government data and the results of their survey, among other things.

Even before Covid-19, Black Food Service employees said they received less tips on average than their white colleagues. Some only make $ 10 an hour.

Covid-19 has also been an ongoing threat to her health and wellbeing. According to the survey, more black employees knew someone who had or died from the disease than others, which put black workers at risk for Covid-19 at work and at home.

Black workers, like other workers, reported an increase in sexual harassment during the pandemic, including #MaskualHarrassment, a term used to describe male customers asking women to take off their masks and tip the number of tips based on the woman’s appearance. Forty percent of restaurant workers surveyed said they were victims of sexual harassment in the workplace during the pandemic.

Eight out of ten workers reported hostile reactions to health protocol enforcement, which affected the number of tips received. But slightly more black workers, around 86%, have seen this.

“Sometimes when you ask a client to put on a mask or step back a little, they get angry and go out of their way to get closer or touch you to make you feel uncomfortable,” one respondent said in the report.

The report takes place amid a growing discussion about raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. President Joe Biden’s proposal would more than double the current minimum wage of $ 7.25 an hour, which has not increased since 2009.

Correction: Eight out of ten workers reported hostile reactions to health protocol enforcement. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated who witnessed this trend. In addition, 78% of all workers said their tips had decreased by at least 50%. In a previous version, this statistic was reported incorrectly.

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