Study: Tipped restaurant workers in Chicago compensated at rates below minimum wage

A new study co-written by a team of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign labor researchers assessing the state of food service and bar employment in the city of Chicago found that more than three-quarters of tipped workers surveyed were compensated at an hourly wage rate of less than the standard Chicago minimum wage but higher than the sub-minimum wage allowed for employees who rely on customer gratuity to supplement their paychecks.

In addition to their subpar wage compensation, front-of-the-house workers such as servers, bussers, bartenders and hosts also experience wage theft, capricious scheduling, and discrimination and sexual harassment, said Alison Dickson, a senior instructor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations and the paper’s lead author.

“For anyone who’s worked in a restaurant, bar or cafe, you have a pretty good idea of how the practice of tipping can lead to discriminatory practices – and how it oftentimes has much less to do with your ability to actually do your job well than your ability to withstand certain types of abusive behavior from customers,” said Dickson, also an affiliate of the Project for Middle Class Renewal.

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