Claudia Worked A Full Night's Shift — Then Instead Of Getting Paid, She Had To Pay

You've probably eaten at a restaurant before. You might even be doing it right now. Maybe take a second to look around you?

Think about the phrases "eating sustainably" or "eating ethically." Is something like this what comes to mind?

Lately there's been a lot of talk about — and a lot of money spent on — eating food that's fresh, locally produced, sustainably grown, humane, etc. And while it's terrific that we're paying so much attention to the impact our food has on the environment and on ourselves, there's one key element that's been left out of most of these conversations.


Her.

I'm pretty sure Claudia and her working conditions aren't what popped into your head, right?

It's no coincidence that Claudia and her wages don't come to mind. A lot of restaurants probably don't want us to know that we're paying their workers' wages. Wait, what?

Yep, the minimum wage for tipped workers in this country is only $2.13 an hour. But even with tips, female tipped workers make a median wage of only $8 an hour. And on top of that, many restaurants also mistreat their employees, for example by requiring them to report higher tips than they actually earned or making them work off the clock.

Take Claudia, for example.

"And one night, Claudia worked a full night's shift at the IHOP at Houston, Texas, and earned some money in tips, but at the end of the night, a couple walked out without paying the bill. And the manager said to her, even though it is illegal and even though IHOP is a mega corporation, 'You're going to be held responsible for that bill.' And so Claudia ended up paying $20 because that bill was $20 more than everything she had earned that entire night in tips — for the luxury of having worked a full night's shift at the IHOP in Houston, Texas. And again, I cannot tell you how many thousands of times I have heard that same story."

Most tipped workers also don't get benefits like paid sick leave.

I'll say that again: Most tipped workers don't get benefits like paid sick leave. If they're living paycheck to paycheck, they often can't afford to take unpaid time off. A lot of the people who touch our food only get paid if they go to work, sick or not.

How about a side of H1N1 with those waffles?

And don't even get me started on the treatment of female restaurant workers.

"The restaurant industry has the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry in the United States."

It also happens to be the industry in which many young women get their start in the working world.

The images above are fictional, but the stories aren't.

Saru Jayaraman outlines in her talk the hundreds of stories she's heard just like these from restaurant workers across the country. But the good thing is, she also offers real solutions, including things (easy things!) each one of us can do to help fix this every time we eat out. So that we really and truly can say we're eating sustainably.

Watch the whole talk here:

Heroes
via The Guardian / YouTube

Beluga whales are affectionately known as sea canaries for their song-like vocalizations, and their name is the Russian word for "white."

They are sociable animals that live, hunt, and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. However, they are naturally reticent to interact with humans, although some solitary belugas are known to approach boats.

Once such beluga that's believed to live in Norwegian waters is so comfortable among humans that it played fetch with a rugby ball.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Many of us are too young to remember the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 of 1986, much less any details about it. But thanks to a viral Facebook post from Misfit History, some attention is being shed on an incredible heroine who saved many American lives in the standoff.

The post reads:

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The truth doesn't hurt for an elementary school teacher in California who's gone viral for teaching her class an empowering remix of one of Lizzo's hit songs.

Ms. Mallari — who teaches at Los Medanos Elementary School in Pittsburg, east of San Francisco — took the singer's song, "Truth Hurts," and reworked the lyrics to teach her students how to be great.

Lizzo's song made history this year for being the longest running number one single from a female rap artist. The catchy original lyrics are about boy problems, but Mallari's remix teaches her students about fairness, helping each other out, and embracing their own greatness.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Newsy People / Twitter

The internet was ablaze after notoriously private actor Keanu Reeves, 55, walked the red carpet at the LACMA Art + Film Gala on Saturday with his new girlfriend, artist Alexandra Grant, 46.

It was refreshing to see a man in Hollywood dating a woman who's age-appropriate. Older actors are notorious for being with women half their age.

Keep Reading Show less
popular