Heroes

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?

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

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:

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.