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Tyee’s ‘Slaves to Tips’ Series Chosen as Finalist for Webster Award

Stories by Rachel Sanders exposed sexism and poor working conditions in BC’s restaurant industry.

Tyee Staff 6 Sep

A 2017 Tyee series on sexism and dress codes in the restaurant industry is a finalist for a Jack Webster Award in the category of business, industry and economics.

In her three-part series “Slaves to Tips: How BC Laws Fuel Sexism on the Job,” reporter Rachel Sanders interviewed many women who face sexual harassment in their jobs serving food and drink. She found B.C. cuts to server minimum wages and reduced enforcement have made their situation worse.

The series detailed discriminatory dress codes in the industry, as well as cuts to the Employment Standards Branch that have resulted in poor enforcement of employment laws.

The series brought about legislative change that will potentially improve working conditions for female restaurant servers. On March 8, Green Party leader Andrew Weaver — citing Sanders’ reporting in the B.C. legislature — introduced a bill that would make it illegal to have differing dress code requirements for male and female employees.

On April 7, the B.C. government amended the footwear regulation of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation under the Workers Compensation Act. The amended regulation stated that employers may not require footwear that does not allow workers to safely perform their work, effectively banning dress codes that require restaurant servers to wear high heels at work.

“After everything I heard from women working in the restaurant industry, it was extremely satisfying to see this story get the attention of politicians and policy makers,” Sanders said of the Webster nomination, which was announced Wednesday.

“It’s an honour to have my work acknowledged by the Jack Webster Foundation. And what a thrill it is to see this series in the company of the outstanding pieces of journalism in the Business, Industry and Economics category.”

Other nominees in the category include Kathy Tomlinson of the Globe and Mail for “Losing the Farm,” and the team of Erica Johnson, James Roberts, Amar Parmar, Karen Burgess and Alison Broddle at CBC Vancouver for “The Big Sell: How bank employees turn customers into targets.”

The winner will be revealed at the Webster Awards dinner on Oct. 12 at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver.  [Tyee]

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