No Rights, Low Wages, No Service

How Increased Violations of Workers’ Rights in 2021, Coupled with High Harassment, and Low Wages and Tips, Have Pushed Workers to Leave the Service Sector

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, thousands of service workers reported experiencing elevated levels of hostility and harassment for enforcing COVID-19 safety measures, all while facing diminishing tips. These conditions can be directly traced to the persistence of the subminimum wage, which remains only $2.13 an hour at the federal level

Over a third –– 35 percent –– of tipped workers reported that their tips and additional wages did not bring them up to their state’s minimum wage and 34 percent of workers reported experiencing more violations of their rights in 2021, the second year of the pandemic, compared to 2020.

In 2021, with the onset of the COVID variants and the end of most pandemic relief programs, tipped workers report finding themselves facing more risks and even worse conditions than the first year of the pandemic. Not only have health and safety risks remained prevalent in 2021, but workers also report that wage theft has increased, even while tips have reduced even further and sexual harassment has increased since last year. 

This brief documents findings of tipped workers’ experience of working throughout the ongoing pandemic and the prevalence of wage theft in the tipped industry.


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