Racism in NY restaurant industry

According to research, gender discrimination is still prevalent in New York's restaurant industry.

by: Christine Kearney: Reuters | 06 Apr 2009

While New York is a melting pot of races and cultures, racial and gender discrimination is still prevalent in the city's restaurant industry, according to a recent study.

City restaurants hire and promote white men more often than women and non-white workers, the study by The Restaurant Opportunities Group said.

The non–profit group sent pairs of workers, one white and one non–white, to apply for wait staff positions at 138 unidentified fine dining restaurants in Manhattan over a year.

Although all the phony applicants were US citizens and had the same credentials, non-white workers were half as likely to receive a job offer than white workers, the study found.

Researchers also examined census data, conducted worker and employer interviews, and analysed wages from information provided in questionnaires.

Some non–whites were subjected to racial stereotyping and some women faced sexual harassment, Rekha Eanni Rodriguez, an attorney for the group, said in an interview.

"This report shows that workers of colour and women face obstacles in getting equal opportunities through all stages of restaurant work, from hiring to moving up once they are in the workplace," Eanni said.

The restaurant industry is the largest employer of immigrants in the nation, representing 17.5 percent of the industry's 8 million employees nationwide, according to Bureau of Labour Statistics data cited in the report.

Tough to advance

Non–white workers make up almost three-quarters of New York's restaurant labour force, according to 2000 US census figures highlighted in the report.

While New York provides jobs for many non–white workers, the report said it is difficult for those workers to advance.

The majority of management and higher wage positions like waiters and bartenders were awarded to white workers, while non–white workers commonly held lower paid positions like busboys and food runners, the study said.

Men held 79 percent of top management positions and 67 percent of waiter and bartending positions, the study said.

And 2000 census data showed non–white workers earned 11.6 percent less than white workers with the same qualifications, the study said.

What do you think – is the same thing happening in SA?

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