Amy Poehler Calls for an Increase to the Tipped Wage
The actress endorses the One Fair Wage Campaign as she talks about her time as a waitress
Actress Amy Poehler has joined the fight to raise servers wages.
Sexual harassment and super-low wages are no joke for restaurant workers, comedian — and former waitress — Amy Poehler said Tuesday.
The “Parks and Recreation” star, who worked for 15 years as a waitress before she hit the big time, on Tuesday announced her support for the One Fair Wage campaign to push for better pay for workers in the food service industry.
“I stand with the workers of One Fair Wage,” the “Saturday Night Live” alum said during a rally inside the Rockefeller Foundation in Midtown.
Restaurant servers typically rely on tips, with some earning as little as $2.13 an hour. Employers are required to “top off” the pay if the tips don’t add up to at least the minimum wage.
But enforcement is often lax.
Additionally, female servers — who make up 70% of the industry — are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment by customers and bosses who pressure them to dress in revealing ways to draw better tips.
“When I was a struggling actress I waited tables in New York,” Poehler said. “I worked for the most part with very reasonable restaurant owners. But I did, like every women in this room, deal with incredible amounts of harassment from customers and co-workers. It was a very routine way of life.”
“Because we rely on tips, we have to please our customers, our managers,” she added. “We have to please our chefs. And all of these expectations to please puts women in very vulnerable positions that often lead to exploitation.”
Restaurant workers at the rally shared their own horror stories.
Shanita Thomas, who sat next to Poehler at the event, recalled bringing a customer a cup of coffee and being startled by his crude response.
“He said to me, ‘hey big t---y girl, got enough milk in those jugs for my coffee?’ ” Thomas said.
When she complained to her manager, she was told “Oh that’s just an old joke. Don’t worry about it.”
Federal statistics show the restaurant industry generates the most sexual harassment charges filed by women with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In total, 62,872 employment harassment charges were filed between 2010 and 2016, with employers paying out $698.7 million in penalties, according to the EEOC.