Tipping perpetuates racism, classism, and poverty — let’s get rid of it! – Vox

The way we tip reflects our prejudices, argues Freakonomics’ Stephen Dubner. Here’s what he told Brian Lehrer: “The data show very clearly that African Americans receive less in tips than whites, and so there is a legal argument to be made that as a protected class, African American servers are getting less for doing the same work. And therefore, the institution of tipping is inherently unfair.”

But not only are black servers making less money than white servers — black diners are perceived to be leaving less money than white diners. Data collected in 2009 from over 1,000 servers all across the US “found that over sixty-five percent [of servers] rated African Americans as below average tippers.” As a result, restaurant workers of all colors dislike waiting on black customers, studies found. The economy of tipping is so racially charged that both servers and diners are affected by prejudice.

Racism isn’t the only kind of discrimination baked into the American tipping system. Female servers, too, face routine discrimination. As Lynn told Dubner: blonde, slender, larger-breasted women in their 30s earn some of the highest tips. Granted, the decision of how large a tip to leave is up to the subjective whims of the tipper, and different people have their own aesthetic preferences. But when a server’s main source of income is her tips, and if those tips are regulated by the prejudices of the tippers, then a case could potentially be made that certain wage practices of restaurants are discriminatory.

This is the very case Kamer made (emphasis mine): “In 1971’s Griggs v. Duke Power, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was ruled to prohibit businesses with discriminatory practices against those protected under it, even if that effect is unintended. Tipping, which has been proven to be discriminatory, could be downright unconstitutional.”

via Tipping perpetuates racism, classism, and poverty — let’s get rid of it! – Vox.

3 thoughts on “Tipping perpetuates racism, classism, and poverty — let’s get rid of it! – Vox

  1. …having worked on and off in restaurants for years, this is so true, and so sad.
    …and now, being older and no longer cute and young, it’s proven impossible to get hired in this day and economy. another form of discrimination. 😦

  2. Wow, I feel like an asshole. I was a server for many years and I never really thought about if my server friends of different races received different, lesser tips. That makes me ashamed. We live in a place where Native Americans make up a large percentage of the population, and I know that the servers often rolled their eyes or complained when they had to wait on Natives, assuming they would be bad tippers. I did my best to not make assumptions on any tables and how they were going to tip. It’s amazing how much better people will tip when you just treat them like, you know, people and give them good service. Of course there were shitty tippers…of all colors, of all shapes, of all sizes and genders.

  3. This is pretty pathetic. I never once tipped someone based on race or looks only on how they did the job. I find it appalling that anything else comes into play, but not surprised.

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