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One Fair Wage: the LGBTQ+ worker crisis

Pride flags.
Pride flags. (Wix)

LGBTQ Equal Pay Awareness Day, which spotlights the disproportionately low wages earned by LGBTQ workers across the nation, was Thursday, June 13. The Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley and One Fair Wage published a new report on Thursday entitled: "The Subminimum Wage Crisis Is An LGBTQ Worker Crisis."

The restaurant and food service industry is the largest employer of LGBTQ people in the country, employing approximately 15% of all LGBTQ workers.

The report details findings from a set of surveys of LGBTQ tipped workers from 2023 through 2024, which reveal that the subminimum wage for tipped workers – just $2.13 per hour federally plays a central role in exposing LGBTQ workers to rampant homophobia and transphobia in the restaurant industry.

Specific findings from the report reveal that: 

  • LGBTQ workers are overrepresented in the restaurant industry, making up nearly 20% of the total workforce, and have faced greater economic struggles with lower tips and more wage theft since the pandemic than their non-LGBTQ peers.

  • Nearly half of surveyed restaurant workers identifying as LGBTQ reported customer harassment and hostility since the pandemic, far more than their heteronormative peers.

  • LGBTQ workers surveyed reported a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than their straight peers—approximately 55 percent—and cited greater barriers to accessing healthcare while infected. 

One Fair Wage, a national organization which advocates for a livable minimum wage for all workers, stated in a press release, "The research presented in the report strongly supports the premise that passing One Fair Wage, a full minimum wage with tips on top, will help LGBTQ individuals who have been struggling for years to rise above poverty levels, reduce exposure to harassment and discrimination, and level the playing field for all low-wage workers."


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