Remember to Tip: Report Shows Waiters Are Underpaid, Overworked, And Unequally Treated

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A new report provides definitive evidence that those from minorities working in the restaurant industry earn less than their white counterparts.

The  study, by the not-for-profit organization Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, shows a pay gap between minority and white restaurant sector workers of on average $4 per hour. “Behind the Kitchen Door” was released on Monday, Valentine’s Day, when we’re more used to hearing tales of extravagant dining and extortionate wining than unfair pay and unacceptable working conditions.

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As well as highlighting pay discrepancies between white workers and those from minorities, the report also drilled home the poor working conditions of waiters and waitresses across the board. For example, the average restaurant worker earns just $15,000 a year, and 80% of them aren’t given paid sick days. Add to this the finding that 90% of restaurant workers in the survey don’t have health insurance, and you’ve got a picture of an underpaid, overworked labor-force servicing the country’s revelers.

As well as releasing the report ROC members around the country called on legislators to pass the WAGES Act (Working for Adequate Gains in Employment in Services) which would raise the base pay for tipped employees from $2.13 per hour to $5.50 by 2013 (the national minimum wage for nonexempt employees is $7.25 an hour).  Members in Chicago even presented Representative Danny Davis  with a home-made heart-shaped cake along with the report, but there was no sugar-coating of its conclusions: The nation’s restaurant staff have got a pretty distasteful deal.

(More on TIME.com: Are We Becoming An Uncivil Society?)

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