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Working In The Service Industry: Sexual Harassment, No Tips, Low Wages

September 6th, 2019 Victoria Breese

4.4 million workers in America’s service industry rely on tips for a living. Roughly two-thirds of this group are women. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers has not changed since 1991. At only $2.13 an hour, it’s no surprise that tips are vital to earning a living in this industry. Although individual states have raised the minimum wage for tipped employees, the majority of states still have a minimum wage under 5$ an hour. Under the law, employers have to increase an employee’s earnings to the federal and state minimum wage for non-tipped employees when an employee’s tips do not make up the difference. As of 2013, people of color make up 40% of tipped employees in the United States. Additionally, more than one million single mothers work in this industry. 

Sexual Harassment in the Service Industry

In addition to low wages, employees in the service industry also struggle with sexual harassment all too often. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has more annual complaints of sexual harassment from the restaurant industry than from any other. Many long-time employees have come to expect sexual harassment as an inevitable part of the job. However, sexual harassment is illegal. If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you should speak with an experienced employment attorney. 

Unpredictable Pay

When relying on tips, a major issue for service industry workers is the unpredictability of their paychecks. Whether a customer tips 20% or leaves no tip at all can have a huge impact on an employee’s paycheck. When an employee is not tipped enough, they often work double or even triple shifts to make extra cash. An eligible employee who works more than 40 hours in a given workweek is entitled to an overtime pay rate. This rate must be time and a half of someone’s usual hourly pay rate. Unfortunately, restaurant owners too often ignore this law as well. An employer is legally required to pay eligible workers overtime. If you have not been paid overtime, an experienced employment attorney can help you recover your rightful wages.

Debate Over Increasing the Minimum Wage

Service industry employers and employees are currently debating whether to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Some employees say that this increase would provide the stability in paychecks that they desire and bring many employees out of poverty. Some employers say that their businesses can not afford this high of a minimum wage increase, arguing that it would force them to lay off staff. Do you think this would be a good solution for the wage issues in America’s service industry?

Seek Legal Assistance Today

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or unpaid wages, seek legal assistance today. The Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.