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Tyee Poll: What Should Be Done Next to End Sexism in BC’s Restaurant Industry?

Last month, The Tyee published a series by Rachel Sanders on sexism in the restaurant industry. The series detailed servers’ stories of harassment, forced dress codes, and comments about “the way my butt looks, the way my boobs look… the way my outfit looks on me.”

Finally, the B.C. legislature has taken note. British Columbia Green Party Leader and MLA Andrew Weaver read The Tyee’s series and was, in his words, “dumbfounded” that this could happen to employees in 2017.

On International Women’s Day, Weaver took action. He introduced a bill in the legislature that proposed banning gender-based discriminatory dress codes, including those that require women to wear high heels in restaurants — or any other workplace.

This bill went on to attract international attention, and to garner support from the BC NDP and Premier Christy Clark. The issue is widely expected to be addressed by the government soon.

This is a big win for female servers, who have long complained of “bleeding” feet and accidents caused by sexist footwear requirements.

But is it enough? Servers don’t just experience sexism through dress codes. A reliance on tips means servers are more likely to put up with harassment, according to University of Victoria PhD candidate Kaitlyn Matulewicz.

In a new piece for The Tyee, Rachel Sanders looks at the myriad ways sexism in the workplace could finally be a thing of the past.

Among the suggestions? End the differentiated minimum wage for liquor servers. Liquor servers in B.C. currently earn $1.25 lower than the current minimum wage of $10.85 per hour. MLA Shane Simpson, the BC NDP opposition spokesperson for Economic Development, Jobs, Labour and Skills, has told The Tyee that his party, if elected, would increase minimum wage to $15 per hour, and that the different minimum for liquor servers is mostly a case of “offloading” responsibility.

B.C.’s Minister of Labour Shirley Bond told The Tyee that the Employment Standards Branch is an effective neutral party that deals with workplace complaints. Weaver, however, said that cuts to Employment Standards Branch funding since 2001 have resulted in fewer officers and smaller budgets, meaning it’s less likely employees will see their complaints dealt with in a timely way.

Weaver also advocates that a basic income would go a long way to end reliance on tipping.

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Please note that Tyee Barometer polls are only intended as a quick and engaging non-scientific snapshot of our readers' opinions on various topics that fit with The Tyee's very broad editorial mandate. They are not intended to be seen as a representative sampling of BC opinion.

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