Conversation between Chris Rock and Frank Rich Spurs Examination of Restaurant Wage and Hour Policies

Actor and comedian Chris Rock and reporter Frank Rich first appeared together in 1996 on Bill Maher’s show Politically Incorrect. They were recently reunited for two New York lounge conversations during Rock’s promotion of the upcoming movie Top Five, which he wrote and directed.

During the conversation reported on the Vulture website, Rock had several controversial things to say about the 2014 midterm elections that were deemed “a fiasco for Obama.” For example, he said Republicans “have no problem being victims” and that colleges have become “too conservative” for his comedy acts.

Rock also observed how America could improve equality for minority groups. Rock said, “If people knew how rich, rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.” Whether or not riots are imminent, there are a few things more fortunate people can do to increase equality.

One of the most unequal places in America is the restaurant industry. People in food service are often maligned for being unskilled or uneducated, and they must also deal with unjust job stressors. For example, some restaurants require waiters and waitresses to participate in unfair “tip pools,” in which non-tipped employees (e.g. managers) illegally share in the tips. Many food service workers and their advocates say this defeats the purpose of “fair wage for fair work.”

Federal, state, and local governments are also currently debating raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour. Although some claim this would affect employment and that younger workers don’t need to be paid minimum wage, the U.S. Department of Labor has found these complaints have no basis in reality. For restaurant servers in particular, “minimum wage” is a relative term; their tips plus regular hourly wages often do not equal the federal minimum.

Finally, citizens can help increase equality and awareness of inequality through the fair and ethical usage of social media. Many people post stories of racially-based injustices on Facebook and Twitter every day but often don’t double-check the stories or delve into the history of alleged incidents of discrimination. If people make educated choices about what and how they post on social media, discrimination incidents could become less sensationalized. Thus, we will be more likely to take them seriously, and we will be closer to achieving equality as a nation.

If you need insight into a possible wage and hour, discrimination or harassment case, contact a New York employment lawyer with Joseph & Kirschenbaum at (212) 688-5640 or for a free consultation.

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