Study Finds That Minorities Are Paid Less in California’s Restaurant Industry

Restaurant Workers


Minorities received 56 percent lower earnings than their white counterparts.

A study released by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROCU) found that racial and gender segregation is prevalent in the California restaurant industry.

Authors of the study, entitled “Ending Jim Crow in America’s Restaurants: Racial and Gender Occupational Segregation in the Restaurant Industry,” analyzed government data, interviewed a limited pool of employers, and spoke with experts. They discovered that those who worked at the front-of-house in restaurants were mainly white men and were paid better than those who worked back-of-house position. These positions are usually filled by minorities.

The study noted the differences in salary. A waiter who gets paid more can potentially earn $150,000, while a runner who works one step lower than waiters can make $30,000 with little chance to advance.

ROCU pointed out that, specifically in California, Latinos face the largest levels of segregation because they do not usually fill the higher paid positions in restaurants. They found that workers of color received 56 percent lower earnings than equally-qualified white workers. Women of color earned 71 percent of what white men earned on average.


Furthermore, the study cited that although California has higher minimum wages and lower gender and race equality, the wage gap is still significant.