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The Michigan Restaurant Association Calls ROC United's Report "Dubious"

"These recycled attacks are part of a national, multi-million dollar campaign," says MRA president and CEO Brian DeBano.

Michigan Nightlight

The Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) responded this week to a study released by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United-Michigan (ROC) that detailed persistent discrimination against women and minorities applying for front-of-house positions at Metro Detroit restaurants. Officials with the association characterized ROC United's report as "dubious" and the organization as "more concerned with generating headlines than conducting reliable, accurate research." Ouch.

"These recycled attacks are part of a national, multi-million dollar campaign," says MRA president and CEO Brian DeBano, "engineered, organized, and funded by national labor unions and their allies seeking to disparage an industry that has no barrier to entry and no limit to what employees can achieve."

The association adds that among other things, African-American owned restaurants increased by 188 percent and Hispanic owned restaurants increased by 80 percent between 1997 and 2007.

The ROC-Michigan report is part of a larger study of three U.S. metropolitan area, and details discrimination that researchers say contributes to high rates of poverty among minority restaurant workers.

Researchers found that study participants of color in Metro Detroit were only 75 percent as likely as white participant to receive a job offer, and were less likely to receive a job interview in the first place.

"There's no economic equity there-no economic security there," says Dr. Alicia Farris, ROC-Michigan's state director, regarding the report.

Among other things, ROC-Michigan recommended abolishing tipped wages in favor of a standard minimum wage and instituting uniform human resources practices at restaurants to provide more opportunities for fairness in career advancement.

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