From the ‘front of house’ to the ‘back of house’ (and onto the green) Topgolf workers are speaking out against toxic work culture in the restaurant and golf entertainment industries
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant industry is going through massive upheaval. Over 1.2 million workers have left the service sector since 2019. In May 2021, 54 percent of 2000 restaurant workers who remain in the industry reported that they are considering leaving, and 78 percent reported that the only factor that would make them stay or return to work in restaurants is a full, livable wage with tips on top. Workers surveyed reported that with the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry’s subminimum wage became intolerable, with tips greatly decreased due to a decline in sales, and increased levels of health risks, customer hostility, and sexual harassment, in an industry that already has the highest rates of sexual harassment.
This report documents how Topgolf, a nationwide corporate restaurant and golf entertainment chain, currently epitomizes resistant corporate chains that are increasingly the holdouts of an industry undergoing tremendous change. Topgolf could instead be a leader, responding to a moment in which workers are no longer willing to accept poverty wages and pervasive harassment and assault by changing their wage structure and workplace policies. Such a move would have significant industry-wide impacts, reducing the sexual harassment and other risks workers across the country face in order to make a living wage.