The Harsh Realities of Being an LGBTQ Restaurant Worker
June 17, 2022
One Fair Wage
UC Berkeley Food Labor Research Center
The subminimum wage has plagued the restaurant industry for decades, causing employees to suffer from low wages, tip dependence, and increased exposure to customer hostility. LGBTQ workers, who are overrepresented in the restaurant industry and are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than other workers, face particularly harsh conditions in the service sector. One Fair Wage analyzed 2022 survey data and found that there is rampant homophobia and transphobia in the restaurant industry. LGBTQ restaurant workers report higher numbers of sexual harassment than their sis/straight counterparts and over 80 percent of LGBTQ workers reported experiencing or witnessing homophobic and transphobic comments in the workplace. This report dispels the myth of LGBTQ affluence by detailing how LGBTQ workers are more likely to live in poverty than other workers and face an increased risk of harassment and abuse in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity. One Fair Wage research suggests that vulnerable workers will not be empowered to reject unwanted behaviors unless the subminimum wage is eliminated.