Restaurant Workers Fight for More Rights and Better Conditions

A restaurant worker can make a pretty good living if he or she can find at job at the right location.  However, as it turns out, most workers are having a tough time finding a sweet spot.

According to a recent news article from the New York Times, the vast majority of food service workers (millions) are still living in poverty, despite working for many hours a week. Further, they are often mistreated by their employers.

booze-1481628The owner of several popular restaurants in New York and in sporting event venues across the country is trying to do his part to change this, but the way he is going about it is to do away with tipping at his establishments.  He says that every employee should be paid a decent wage, and this will help to fight what is known as income inequality.

He says that not only will it make the workers happy, it will be good for business, because happy employees tend to work harder. The problem is that there is a federal minimum for employees who work at jobs that are typically tip-based, and that lower rate is $2.13 per hour. If an employee does not earn at least $7.25 an hour in tips, which is the federal minimum wage, then they will be paid the difference between their actual wage and federal minimum.  However, some cities like Los Angeles require that all workers be paid the same minimum wage whether they make their money from tips or not.  This means that server in Los Angeles has the potential to make much more money that server in Washington, DC or New York.

However, wages are not the only thing that goes into making an employee happy and thus, more productive.  Having sick days, for example, is a major benefit to employees. Being able to know that if you have to miss work for a childcare issue one day, it will not mean that you will lose your job is important.  In the event that you are injured on the job, you should not be afraid to file a workers’ compensation claim.

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys have seen, many workers are afraid to file a workers’ compensation claim over fears that they will be fired if they do.  However, this retaliation is illegal, and if you are the victim of retaliation, you should contact an employment attorney as soon as possible to assist you with filing a claim against your employer.  This problem is particular bad in the Los Angeles area, because of the number of workers who speak Spanish as their primary language.  Employers have a long history of wrongfully taking advantage of immigrants from Spanish speaking countries because many fear there will be problems if they speak about their legal rights.  This should never be allowed to happen, but unfortunately, it happens on a regular basis.

As for this recent effort to remove tips as the main form of payment for restaurant workers, the goal is to get to $15 per hour for all employees.  For residents of Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles, there has already been a law passed that will gradually raise the minimum wage to that level by 2021.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

An Outspoken Force to Give Food Workers a Seat at the Table, February 20, 2016, New York Times, By David Gelles

More Blog Entries:

Getting Fired in California Over a DUI, Feb. 2, 2016, Orange County Employment Lawyer Blog