People who work in restaurants will tell you: tips say more about customers than about the service they get. All those people who say that tips are a way to reward good service and punish bad service? Sorry, but thatâ€™s not how it works in practiceÂ every day in restaurants across the country. Instead, tips are all too often used as weapons toÂ force women to accept sexual harassment. A few of those women detailed their worst experiences for theÂ New York Times:
There was the young server at a burger joint in Georgia, Emmallie Heard, whose customer held her tip money in his hand and said, â€śSo you gonna give me your number?â€ť She wrote it down, but changed one of the digits.
There was the waitress in Portland, Ore., Whitney Edmunds, who swallowed her anger when a man patted his lap and beckoned her to sit, saying, â€śIâ€™m a great tipper.â€ť
And at a steakhouse in Gonzales, La., Jaime Brittain stammered and walked away when a group of men offered a $30 tip if sheâ€™d answer a question about her pubic hair. She returned and provided a â€śsnappy answerâ€ť that earned her the tip, but acknowledges having mixed feelings about the episode.
If you donâ€™t believe restaurant workers when they say that tips arenâ€™t about good service, the research agrees with themâ€”and shows that tipping promotes racial inequality:
â€¦Â good service does not motivate tipping decisions as much as people think, said Michael Lynn, a professor of consumer behavior and marketing at Cornell, who has spent years studying why we tip.
â€śThe evidence just isnâ€™t there that the desire to reward good service is driving most tipping decisions,â€ť he said.
Instead, Professor Lynn said, customers are more likely to tip waitresses who are large-breasted, slender and blond, according toÂ research he published in 2009. White servers are tipped more than people of color, according toÂ his research.
And when tipped workers are paid a subminimum wage of $2.13 an hourâ€”which has been the federal level for more than two decadesâ€”it only increases their dependence on tips.
This blog was originally published at DailyKos on March 12, 2018. Reprinted with permission.Â
About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at DailyKos.