Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal deserves credit for conducting consciousness-raising sessions on race with new employees [“You’re hired. Let’s talk about race.,” Business, May 20]. But a question struck me when reading how Mr. Shallal challenges his incipient staff members’ conceptions about tipping practices: Why not simply pay every employee a living wage out of sales revenue while discouraging tips with boldfaced disclaimers on menus and checks? Alternatively, why not tack on to each bill a tip of 18.5 percent or 20 percent with revenue set aside for distribution to waiters and busers as part of their weekly salary?
Either practice would eliminate invidious comparisons regarding the inherent stinginess or generosity of customers based on color, gender, age, etc. It would also put the burden of justly compensating workers squarely where it belongs: on the employer. For these reasons, progressive organizations are pushing state and local governments to eliminate two-tiered minimum-wage laws that permit restaurants to pay tipped employees less than other workers.
Hal Ginsberg, Kensington
The writer is co-chair of Our Revolution Montgomery County.