The Rise of Equity Charges at Restaurants
John Miltimore of Fee.org recently published an article on the expansion of ‘equity’ and ‘living wage’ charges at restaurants around the country and why many of the underlying economic assumptions made b y these establishments are erroneous or performative. A restaurant local to him, Broders’, is one such place. In a portion of his piece titled ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,’ Miltimore walks the reader through its stated purpose and reasoning for these new, “inclusive” policies. Broders’ is of course free to add this additional charge, but there are few things that should be noted.
First, it’s true that many states allow tipped employees to make less than the minimum wage. However, Minnesota is not one of those states. Businesses with gross revenue over $500,000 are legally required to pay employees — including tipped workers — at least $10.08 an hour. (For businesses with gross revenue less than $500,000, the minimum wage is $8.21.)
For Broders’ to include this sentence — “many states have allowed reduced minimum wages” — as a justification of its equity policy while fully knowing this policy is not in use in Minnesota is deceptive.
Second, I’m no Robert Irvine, but telling your customers you are going to begin charging them more because they are too bigoted to tip fairly might not be a winning restaurant strategy. Just sayin’. As a former restaurant worker, I pride myself on being a generous and fair tipper, and the implication that I can’t be trusted with this responsibility doesn’t sit well with me.
Finally, if Broders’ doesn’t feel restaurant workers in the back are earning enough money, there is a solution to that: pay them more. This action doesn’t require any surcharges or public lectures on systemic oppression. It only requires the restaurant to run an efficient and profitable business that allows them to pay workers a wage they believe is fair and “livable.”
You can read the rest of Miltimore’s worthwhile piece here.