This Study Found That The Worst Kind Of People Are Dining Out During The Pandemic

I’ve eaten a lot of delicious food in 2020.

While I haven’t been to restaurants to eat in person, I have made an effort to get carryout and delivery in the hopes of supporting some of our favorite spots around Columbus. The pandemic has had many consequences this year, and one of them, without a doubt, is the huge impact it has had on service industry employees.

Even before pandemic times, service industry workers often felt the sting of being underpaid. But now, they’re being forced to put their lives on the line every day so that people can dine-in. And a new study shows that the people eating out right now aren’t exactly dream customers.

The new report, released by One Fair Wage, surveyed 1,675 food service workers between Oct. 20 and Nov. 10 from five states, including New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C. The study found that not only are servers receiving horrible tips, they’re also facing harassment for enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing, NPR reports.

“We were really shocked with how horrific the situation truly is,” president of One Fair Wage, Saru Jayaraman said in an interview with Weekend Edition. “But I think the most horrific thing, that honestly all of us who are involved in the study were all blown away by, was the huge increase in hostility and sexual harassment.”

The study was sadly and appropriately called, “Take off your mask so I know how much to tip you.” It found that 40% of food industry workers claim sexual harassment from customers has increased while 80% have seen a decline in tips.

The study reports that “nearly 250 workers shared sexualized comments from customers, a substantial portion of which were requests from male customers that female service workers remove their mask so that they could judge their looks, and, implicitly, determine their tips on that basis. Many comments were even more sexually explicit, such as, “Pull that mask down so I can see if I want to take you home later,” and “Take off your mask so I can stick my tongue down your throat.”

By forcing employees to be the main enforcers of mask mandates, workers are putting their own tips in jeopardy when having ask customers to remain masked. Over a third of workers reported that “their employer had not conducted a mandatory training on COVID safety protocols,” and 70% of workers say their employers aren’t following safety measures consistently.

You can view the full study here, but the moral of the story is really this: if you are dining out right now, wear your mask, follow safety protocols, be kind, and for the love of god, tip your server appropriately.

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