Working Below the Line: How the Subminimum Wage for Tipped Restaurant Workers Violates International Human Rights Standards

52 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2016  

Laurel E. Fletcher

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: December 10, 2015

Abstract

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration to ensure an existence worthy of human dignity. However, for many low-wage tipped workers in the U.S. restaurant industry these standards are out of reach. Rooted in exploitation of workers, the custom of tipping has evolved since its origins in the late Nineteenth Century. It has become codified in a two-tiered minimum wage system that denies tipped restaurant workers fair wages and basic labor protections. This report sheds light on the ways in which federal and state laws maintain this wage structure and enable working conditions in the restaurant industry that violate fundamental human rights protections for tipped workers, particularly women and people of color. This human rights analysis points to significant human rights deprivations and the need for new laws and policies.

Notes: This report is edited by Laurel E. Fletcher, UC Berkeley School of Law; Allison Davenport, UC Berkeley School of Law; Katrina Natale, UC Berkeley School of Law; Saru Jayaraman, UC Berkeley; and Teofilo Reyes, Restaurant Opportunities Center United. UC Berkeley International Human Rights Law Clinic Student Contributors to the report were Suzanne Dershowitz '17, Evelyn Rangel-Medina '16, and Kathleen Tang '16.

Keywords: Human Rights, Worker Rights, Employment rights

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Laurel E., Working Below the Line: How the Subminimum Wage for Tipped Restaurant Workers Violates International Human Rights Standards (December 10, 2015). UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2758842. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2758842 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2758842

Laurel E. Fletcher (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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