Behind the Kitchen Door: Inequality, Instability, and Opportunity in the Greater New Orleans Restaurant Industry

In 2010, ROC-NOLA released Behind the Kitchen Door: Inequality, Instability, and Opportunity in the Greater New Orleans Restaurant Industry, the most comprehensive study of the New Orleans restaurant industry ever conducted.  The research included 530 surveys of restaurant workers, 28 worker interviews, 29 employer interviews, and government data analysis.  The findings illustrated the great need for reform that can achieve a sustainable industry in which workers, employers, and diners prosper together.

Our Findings:

  • The median wage for restaurant workers in New Orleans in 2009 was only $7.76 per hour, though 13.2% of workers make a livable wage
  • 84.5% of workers do not have health insurance through their employer.
  • 38.1% of workers in New Orleans have worked overtime without being properly compensated for it.
  • Race-based segregation is widespread in the New Orleans restaurant industry.  78.4% of white workers surveyed worked in front of the house positions, while 55.5% of Latino workers and 32.1% of African-American workers work in the front of the house.
  • Workers who experienced employment law violations were twice as likely as workers who experienced no employment law violations to be forced to do something under time pressure that put the consumers’ safety at risk.
Download the full report here