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Study finds worker discrimination common in Detroit restaurants

It is important for workers to understand that workplace discrimination is not permissible. A recent study by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC) found the discrimination is prevalent in the restaurant industry. While the problem is nationwide, according to ROC United, the policies in 273 restaurants in Detroit and two other metro areas in the country were investigated as part of the study. The cities that were part of the study are cities where people of color comprise the majority of the population. The study reported that applicants of color are only 73 percent as likely to receive a job offer as white counterparts and earn 44 percent less than white counterparts.

The study also found that people of color commonly fill jobs that are regarded as lower quality than those filled by white counterparts. Only 22 percent of people of color occupy non-managerial "front-of-the-house" positions compared to 81 percent of white workers that occupy managerial positions. Front-of-the-house positions are typically more highly regarded than "back-of-the-house" positions such as prep cooks and dishwashers. The National Restaurant Associations disputes the study's findings.

An ROC representative noted that people of color and woman comprise the majority of the restaurant industry's workforce but are denied opportunities. The ROC found that female restaurant workers make 11 percent less than male restaurant workers and a different ROC report recently released found that sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in the restaurant industry. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, religion, gender and national origin. These protections apply to employees and prospective employees, as it is unlawful for employers to discriminate in the hiring process, job assignment process or when making compensation decisions.

Because freedom from racial discrimination and other forms of discrimination is a civil right, it is important that employees are aware of the rights and protections they have when discriminated against by an employer. Different solutions may be available to employees based on the circumstances which is why an informed awareness of the options available may be useful for workers and their families.

Source: Think Progress, "The Restaurant Industry Is Rife With Race Discrimination," Carimah Townes, Oct. 24, 2014

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