Restaurant workers are supposed to get at least minimum wage, when tips are combined with the $2.13 an hour tipped worker minimum wage. But, as the women in this video make clear, that's not enough. Too often, employers don't make up the difference, or even push workers to do prep or cleaning work at $2.13, with no chance to make tips.
Relying on tips also forces an overwhelmingly female workforce to flirt with customers and smile at things that should be considered sexual harassment, all for the hope of a tip. A server named Gwenn told the Restaurant Opportunities Centers site "Living Off Tips" that "I think service is the hardest part. especially when customers decide how they’ll pay you by what they think of your looks."
The regular federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour hasn't gone up since 2009, while the minimum wage for tipped workers hasn't gone up since 1991 and is now a cause of widespread poverty among restaurant workers.