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 further exacerbates socioeconomic inequalities, gastronomy is no different.
During the pandemic, black restaurant workers received far fewer tips than other racial groups, according to a report by labor group One Fair Wage. An overwhelming 90% of black workers said their tips fell by 50% or more, encouraging segregation in the restaurant industry. For comparison, 72% of white workers said their tips had dropped that much.
Approximately 4,100 workers in five states and Washington, DC participated in 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 stated that, on average, they received less tips than their white colleagues. Some only make $ 10 an hour.
Not only did Covid-19 receive fewer tips, but it has also been an ongoing threat to their health and wellbeing. According to the survey, more black workers 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.
As a result of setting the appropriate social distancing and masking rules, the report found that black employees, on average, received more hostility from customers than others, which also resulted in fewer tips.
#MaskualHarrassment, a term stemming from the pandemic that describes the practice of male clients asking women to remove their masks and using their appearance to determine the number of tips they give, has also increased. Forty percent of the restaurant workers surveyed were sexually harassed in the workplace during the pandemic, and black employees were also racially attacked.
Eight out of ten workers have also reported hostile reactions to health protocol enforcement, which have 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 try to get closer to you or touch you just 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 double the current federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 an hour, which has not changed since 2009.
Correction: Eight out of ten workers reported hostile reactions in enforcing health protocols. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated who witnessed this trend.