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Here's a Tip: Advancing a Living Wage for Restaurant Workers

with Saru Jayaraman & Evelyn Rangel-Medina

Tipped restaurant workers have three times the poverty rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce. But a surging restaurant workers' rights movement is seeking to eliminate the tipped subminimum wage and to transform the culture of exploitation in the industry. Leading the charge is Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC United).

We talked with ROC United's co-founder, Saru Jayaraman, and Evelyn Rangel-Medina, the director of the Bay Area chapter of ROC. We talked about ROC United's work to end the subminimum wage and how this two-tiered wage system violates international human rights standards and harms women and immigrant workers of color most profoundly.

During the hangout, Saru identified ways in which legal aid attorneys can work to minimize the problems clients face as a result of tipped wages. When talking with clients, attorneys can be on the lookout for these common violations:

  • Employers not giving notice of wage rates upon hiring or when wages change;
  • Employers not ensuring  that tips are making up the difference between the subminimum tipped wage and minimum wage;
  • Tipped workers being assigned tasks in the “back of the house” instead of with customers.

If you hear of such cases, let Saru and Evelyn know, as ROC United is compiling these cases. You can reach them at and

For more, be sure to read their Clearinghouse article, "Advancing a Living Wage and Human Rights for Restaurant Workers in the United States."

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