The Tipping Point

How The Subminimum Wage Keeps Incomes Low and Harassment High

As one of the largest employers of women, one of the largest employers of young people, and one of the largest private sector employers, the restaurant industry plays an outsized role in shaping both the early formative work experiences of young women and men and the ongoing experiences of the millions who continue to work in it. The high levels of sexual harassment in this industry have been found by numerous studies. This report documents the findings of the first nationally representative sample to establish the prevalence of sexual harassment among tipped workers, its connection to tipped workers’ subminimum wage, and the consequences faced by survivors, including retaliation by employers for reporting. This harassment has become more severe and life-threatening for tipped workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research is particularly timely in informing discussions over legislation now being considered in Congress to phase out the subminimum wage for tipped workers.

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