Customer Discrimination in Restaurants: Dining Frequency Matters

Publication Date


Document Type



Using unique survey data collected outside of five Virginia restaurants, and controlling for subjective server productivity, as well as a variety of other factors, we compare the tip earnings of male and female servers. Evidence of customer discrimination is found, but only among those customers who frequent the restaurant the least, revealing that female servers earn comparable tips to male servers when the service quality they produce is about exceptional, but for any lower service quality their tips are smaller. This suggests that female servers are being held to a very high standard, and if this standard is not met, they are treated unfavorably in comparison to male servers who produce the same level of service quality. Additional evidence indicates that it is male customers driving these results.

Original Citation

Parrett, M. (2011). Customer Discrimination in Restaurants: Dining Frequency Matters. Journal of Labor Research, 32(2), 87-112. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12122-011-9107-8