Contact: Maria Myotte, maria [at] rocunited [dot] org

Statement from Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, on the President Obama’s Executive Orders on National Equal Pay Day

“While we applaud President Obama’s efforts to promote a ‘women’s economic agenda’ with yesterday’s executive orders, his focus must turn to the restaurant industry to address systemic practices that keep millions of women earning poverty-level wages. The majority of people earning a subminimum wage and living off tips are women — adult women, many of them mothers. Although women continue to earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, the restaurant industry’s use of the subminimum wage is a leading example of legal gender pay discrimination.

“Being dependent on tips for the majority of one’s wages puts women in an especially precarious and vulnerable positions in which they’re forced to put up with inappropriate treatment from customers, coworkers, and management alike for their wages. The restaurant industry is the single-largest source of sexual harassment. Nearly 37 percent of all sexual harassment charges filed by women with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) come from the restaurant industry – that’s more than five times the rate for the general female workforce.

“As the fastest growing economic sector in the country, and an industry many of our daughters will either temporarily or permanently enter, creating a true ‘women’s economic agenda’ must include abolishing the subminimum wage.


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.