Restaurant Charges 15% for Not Speaking English

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Tipping can be a real pain in the neck. First, there's the issue of who to tip and how much. What if the waitstaff was rude? Does that mean they get a small tip? No tip? And what's the right amount for a barista--is it ok to just unload the change you just got back, or is the 15 percent/ 20 percent range the one to go by?

Regardless of the angst that comes with forking over cash, the general understanding is that there is wiggle room with tipping, in terms of whether to do it at all and how much to give.

Unless you're eating at Keoni by Keo's in Waikiki and don't speak English. There, the policy is that customers who don't speak English are automatically charged a 15 percent tip.

According to Eater, the restaurant says it's because the majority of its customers don't speak English and they don't tip. The restaurant says this way the staff is taken care of.

The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, which hasn't received a complaint about the restaurant but may investigate has a problem with the restaurant's speedy fix, saying “discrimination based on language is ancestry discrimination,”  and the restaurant may need to find a better way to cover staff wages.

Note, however, that the restaurant told KI-TV that if customers really didn't want to pay the 15 percent they didn't have to. There was no mention whether this policy were explained on the bill or in a language other than English.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.