A major topic in employment law is how to make sure that tipped employees are treated fairly. If a business’s policies are discriminatory, then some of those teammates may not be paid appropriately, and wage-related issues may result.
One company facing scrutiny now is Darden Restaurants, which is the parent company of the well-known chain Olive Garden. It’s facing a lawsuit over its tipping policy, which One Fair Wage believes leads to racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
What’s the basis of the complaint against Darden?
The complaint states that Darden’s tipping policy results in employees of color earning less than their white counterparts. In a poll of 200 workers, it was determined that workers of color made, on average, 18% less in tips than white employees. In the lawsuit, it was also pointed out that managers have the ability to influence the tips certain waiters or waitresses get because of scheduling policies.
For example, if a manager assigns a person of color to an afternoon shift on a weekday, the likelihood of getting good tips is lower than if they’re serving during the dinner rush on a Saturday afternoon.
The complaint also goes on to mention that those who earn less than minimum wage before tips were more likely to face sexual harassment. Why? It could be due to managers asking employees to dress in a more suggestive way, as an example, so that they’ll obtain better tips.
Darden has disagreed with One Fair Wage’s concerns. The company has also recently made changes so that floor staff makes $10 an hour plus tips, which is set to increase in the future.
What can victims of workplace discrimination or harassment do?
Tipping policies that encourage harassment or discrimination cannot be accepted in any workplace. If you’re struggling with this type of policy where you work, know that you can speak up and talk to an attorney about your options.