In data-hungry, tech-happy chain restaurants, customers are rating their servers using tabletop tablets, not realizing those ratings can put jobs at risk.
And Ziosk could be a roundabout way for employers to discriminate against employees. Employers are legally restricted from evaluating employees based gender, age, race, or appearance, according to Karen Levy, an assistant professor in the Department of Information Science at Cornell University — but nothing is stopping Ziosk users from doing that, even though those ratings can affect a worker’s pay or employment. “If you outsource that job to a consumer, you may be able to escape that,” she said.
“Customers who might discriminate against a certain class or group of workers can use the system to leave negative comments that would affect the workers,” said Cornell’s Ajunwa. She compared the restaurant system to student evaluations of professors, which determine the trajectory of their careers, and tend to be biased against women.
Having low scores posted for all coworkers to see was “very embarrassing,” said Steph Buja, who recently left her job as a server at a Chili’s in Massachusetts. But that’s not the only way customers — perhaps inadvertently — use the tablets to humiliate waitstaff. One diner at Buja’s Chili’s used Ziosk to comment, “our waitress has small boobs.”According to other servers working in Ziosk environments, this isn’t a rare occurrence.
This is outright sexual harrassment and appears to be actively creating a hostile work environment. I could easily see a class action against large chains and/or against the app maker themselves. Aggregating the data and using it in a smart way is fine, but I suspect no one in the chain is actively thinking about what they’re doing, they’re just selling an idea down the line. The maker of the app should be doing a far better job of filtering this kind of crap out and aggregating the data in a smarter way and providing a better output since the major chains they’re selling it to don’t seem to be capable of processing and disseminating what they’re collecting.