Burlington, Vt. Restaurants Add Gratuity To Foreigners' Bills


"Waiting tables in France is a profession--you have health insurance and paid vacations and minimum wage. It's a completely different approach to the profession," said Humbert. "Here people who wait tables don't have health insurance, no paid vacation. They can barely build up their Social Security because their salary base is to low. You cannot make a profession of it unless you work at a high-end restaurant and make a lot of money."

According to the Commission des normes de travail, which is comprised of employers and employees from Quebec, Québecois wait staff earn a minimum of $8.55 an hour, plus tips.

In Vermont, on the other hand, servers earn a mere $4.10 an hour, but if they don't earn at least $8.46 in tips in any given hour of work, their employer must make up the difference.

Humbert explained that she was a local, and her server removed the extra gratuity. Humbert then left a 15 percent tip.

Though she said she understands why servers might add on a tip, she does see it as discrimination. But she's glad the situation opened up a dialogue. "It's not something we talk about, tipping," she said. "But I think everybody has an opinion about it. Everybody has been thinking about it but not talking about it, and this was a good event to kind of raise the question about people who tip well, people who don't' tip well, waiter and waitress wages, cultural differences."

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