FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 5, 2014
Contact: Maria Myotte, maria [at] rocunited [dot] org

New Video Takes on Connection Between Living Off Tips and Sexual Harassment in Restaurant Industry
Restaurant Workers Five Times More Likely to Be Sexually Harassed than the General Workforce

See the video here:

New York, NY — As states and cities like Michigan and Seattle move forward in raising their minimum wages but leave tipped workers out or behind, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United releases a new video that takes on the connection between living off tips and sexual harassment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has targeted the restaurant industry, of which servers are more than 70% women, as the largest source of sexual harassment charges with 37% of all claims — that’s five times higher than the rate for the general female workforce.

“The workers who consistently get left out of or used as bargaining chips in minimum wage negotiations are predominantly women; that’s not a coincidence,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-director and co-founder of ROC United. “Every time our elected officials cave to big business on raising the tipped minimum wage, they’re condoning a workplace where one’s  livelihood is inextricably linked to enduring sexual advances, harassment, and even violence. This isn’t inherent to the restaurant industry; it’s because the tipped minimum wage has been so abysmally low for so long that the majority of a woman’s wages are tips. We hope this video empowers other women to say enough is enough, and share their stories at livingofftips.com. ROC will be doing a lot more to combat sexual harassment in the restaurant industry going forward.”

The video, “What’s Living Off Tips Got to Do with Sexual Harassment?,” produced in partnership with Global Girl Media, features ROC-Michigan member Aisha Thurman and her family. Thurman, a current server with more than two decades of experience, recounts experiences of enduring sexual harassment from customers and why she supports raising the tipped minimum wage.

Michigan, the only Republican-led state to raise its minimum wage, included a meager raise for tipped workers lifting the state’s current tipped minimum wage from from $2.65 to $3.50. Yesterday, Seattle became the city with the highest minimum wage in the country, and  the first city in U.S. history to introduce a tipped minimum wage where it has been abolished statewide.

See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndkcqgU9RRo

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Co-founded by labor rights leader Saru Jayaraman (“One of the top 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry” – Nation’s Restaurant News) ROC United has grown to over 13,000 members across 26 cities in the US, winning 13 worker-led campaigns, totaling $7 million in stolen tips and wages.