In 2005, ROC-NY released Behind the Kitchen Door: Pervasive Inequality in New York City’s Thriving Restaurant Industry, the most comprehensive study of New York’s restaurant industry ever conducted. The research included 530 surveys of restaurant workers, 45 worker interviews, 35 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 can prosper together.
- In 2004, the median wage for New York City restaurant workers was only $9.11. Nevertheless, New York still has good restaurant jobs, as one fifth of workers make a livable wage, showing that it is possible in this industry.
- 84% of New York’s restaurant workers do not get paid sick days.
- 59% of workers have experienced overtime violations, and 57% do not always get legally required breaks.
- 33% of workers reported that they have experienced verbal abuse on the basis of race, immigration status, or language.
- Poor working conditions can have a negative impact on consumers. 18% of workers that have experienced labor violations reported that they have cut corners while working in ways that may have harmed consumers, compared to only 3% of workers that have not experienced labor violations.