Adrienne H. sent along two print advertisements for Hospitality Staffing Solutions, a company that is hired by hotels and restaurants to provide service-level hospitality workers: janitors, maids, cooks, servers, and others. The ads position this type of worker as inherently problematic. The first suggests that there is a pressing need to ensure that they don’t have criminal backgrounds. The second, with the byline “you shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality for price,” suggests that low-wage employees are typically of poor-quality — interchangeable, metaphorically junk, like junk food — but that a company should have the right to pay the bare minimum and still retain excellent workers.
Hospitality Staffing Solutions clearly believes that employers have a very low opinion of the workers to whom they pay the lowest wages. I imagine it must be unpleasant to be a working class person employed by someone so inclined to think the worst about you, all while paying you as little as possible and monitoring you for the slightest infractions. Many middle- and upper-class people are privileged to escape this kind of scrutiny — a scrutiny under which many of them would look quite imperfect; they are generally considered worthy of respect and their skills deserving of a living wage. These ads suggest that working class people are not given such privileges.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.