New Study Finds Racial & Gender Segregation in Restaurant Industry

A new study—Ending Jim Crow in America’s Restaurants—reveals deep racial and gender segregation in the restaurant industry. This means that women, immigrants, and people of color working in restaurants have less opportunity to increase their wages. When survivors don’t have access to a livable, stable income, it affects how they make decisions about their relationships:

  • Will I have enough this week to make ends meet or will I have to go back to my abusive partner to keep a roof over my head?
  • If I call out a customer who is harassing me will my tips decrease? Will less money at the end of the night be an excuse my abusive partner uses to fly into a rage?

Fair wages and real opportunities for advancement would give survivors more options and make them safer.

Research findings:

  • Women make up 52% of all restaurant workers but earn substantially lower wages, likely as a result of working in lower-tipping segments of the industry, such as casual restaurants.
  • Workers of color are concentrated in Back-of-the-House (e.g., line cooks, dishwashers) and Tier II (lower paid) occupations. African American workers earn the lowest wages in Back-of-the-House and Tier II occupations, and lower wages than white workers in Front-of-the-House (e.g., servers, bartenders) and Tier I (higher paid) occupations.
  • All workers of color experience racial segregation, but in California, Latinos experience the highest levels of directly observable occupational segregation, with substantial under-representation in the higher-paying server and bartender occupations.