I just returned from the State House where I testified before the Rhode Island House Subcomittee on the issue of “Wage Theft”.  While the issue of Minimum Wage increase for Tipped Employees is upcoming here in Rhode Island($2.89), tonight’s hearing specifically referred to the issue of management and/or ownership taking portions of the service staff’s tip. I testified in reference to my time working for a corporate fine dining restaurant named Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for the entirety of its nearly eight year existence in Providence, RI. 
     I was one of maybe two tipped employees or former tipped employees who were there to testify. There were, at the very least, thirty restaurant owners there to testify against this bill.  I testified in favor of this particular bill which would specifically outlaw the practice of management taking any portion of the service staff’s tip. I also addressed the issue of minimum wage which elicited several follow-up questions from members of the subcommittee.
     I am in a unique situation since I do not currently work in the service industry and I won’t be completely heartbroken if I can never do so again in Rhode Island after this.  Even with that being said, it was extremely intimidating to testify in this room full some of the owners some of the best restaurants not only in Rhode Island, but in the United States.  As I testified, one of my former employers was pacing back and forth looking exasperated. He left immediately following my testimony(I did not mention his particular restaurant in my testimony).
     The owner of Sienna literally came to tears when speaking of how much he loves his employees.  He said he hadn’t heard any complaints from his staff about the current system.  I felt that I was taking a large risk in speaking publicly about this, because I may in fact find myself begging a service job in the future and I joked, “This isn’t exactly a job interview,” at which some of the owners chuckled. I almost walked out before going through with it. 
   

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