Blacks Less Desirable as Wait Staff in N.Y.

Blacks Less Desirable as Wait Staff in N.Y.

Published April 2, 2009

Fancy restaurants in New York apparently see Black wait staff as bad for business.

A new study by economist Marc Bendick Jr., came up with the same old results: White job applicants are considerably “more likely to get follow-up interviews, be offered jobs and given information about jobs, and their work histories were less likely to be investigated in detail,” The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Hired by advocacy groups for restaurant workers, Bendick conducted his experiments by sending pairs of applicants with similar résumés to various restaurants. The gender, appearance and experiences of the applicants – virtually everything but race – were the same.

“There really should not be a lot of difference in how the two of them are treated,” said Bendick, whose experiment is part of part of a larger report called “The Great Service Divide: Occupational Segregation and Equality in the New York City Restaurant Industry.” But there were big differences.

For example, Bendick found, non-White job applicants were 54.5 percent less likely as White applicants to get a job offer, and were less likely than White testers to receive a job interview in the first place; work experience of White job applicants was less likely to be subject to scrutiny; accents made a difference — with White candidates; White applicants with slight European accents were 23.1 percent more likely to be hired than White testers with no accent, but accents in non-White applicants made no difference.

Bendick has long researched such social ills as discrimination, ranging from racism in the advertising industry to sexism in firefighting. He said that in industries, such experiments typically found discrimination 20 percent to 25 percent of the time. In New York restaurants, it was found 31 percent of the time.

“That tells us that is a particularly serious situation of discrimination,” he said. “The rate of discrimination is worse for jobs that are really worth having. You don’t get a lot of discrimination for hamburger-flipping jobs at McDonalds.” At expensive restaurants in New York, “these are the jobs that you can make $55,000 to $100,000 a year,” Mr. Bendick said.

Written by Staff


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