Saru Jayaraman: A Potent Voice for Restaurant Workers

Saru Jayaraman
Image credits: Wikipedia

Saru Jayaraman is an attorney, author, and activist. She is from Los Angeles, California. She has earned the reputation of being a powerful activist for restaurant workers. She is the President of One Fair Wage, an organization which she founded in 2013, and the Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley (perhaps the first academic institution to study the relationship between food and labor). 

She has already devoted two decades of her life in organizing and advocating for raising wages and improving working conditions for workers in restaurants and other services.

If one were to ask what is the profession of Saru Jayaraman then it would be apt to say that she is a lawyer and an activist.

About Saru Jayaraman

Saru’s parents emigrated from India to the US as her father wanted to find work in the US as a software engineer. Her family settled in Los Angles and had to frequently suffer racial slurs for quite many years.

Once when Saru was a child, her family experienced car problem while traveling across Utah, and seven different mechanics declined to service their car. During the Gulf War, there were several times when people on the street screamed at them to go back to Iraq, obviously not knowing that her parents were from India.

Saru did her higher education from UCLA, Yale Law School and also from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She got a law degree from Yale and a master’s in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Saru discovered her life’s calling just after the tragedy of the September 11 attacks on World Trade Center. Then she was working in New York as a labor organizer. She focused on helping restaurant workers who had become unemployed, which eventually snowballed into a huge campaign to improve working conditions in the restaurant industry and prospects for advancement for lower-paid employees in the US.

Any biography of Saru Jayaraman must give adequate focus on her exemplary activism done with Restaurant Opportunities Center; which she and Fekkak Mamdouh, the former chief server of Windows on the World, a former restaurant which was located at the top of the World Trade Center, founded.

Although Restaurant Opportunities Center was conceived and established to help those restaurant workers who were affected by 9/11, but over the years the organization grew to became an organizing center for all immigrant restaurant workers in New York and eventually across the US. Today ROC United can be easily construed a national movement comprising restaurant workers, employers and consumers with 18,000 members across 15 states of the US.

Her launching of One Fair Wage as a national campaign to end subminimum wages in the United States was also a commendable initiative.

Over the years, many accolades have greeted her on her journey. Saru was named SF Chronicle Visionary Of The Year in 2019 and was listed in CNN’s Top10 Visionary Women. She was also recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014 and won James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2015. Saru was a recipient of the Ashoka fellowship in 2013 and the Soros Equality Fellowship in 2020.

Saru has authored four books, which are titled The New Urban Immigrant Workforce; Behind the Kitchen Door: The People Who Make and Serve Your Food; Forked: A New Standard for American Dining; and Bite Back: People Taking on Corporate Food and Winning.


How old is Saru Jayaraman?

She was born on 3rd April 1975. The age of Saru Jayaraman is 46 years.

What is the net worth of Saru Jayaraman?

There is no authentic news on Saru Jayaraman in public domain about her net worth.

What is Saru Jayaraman known for?

Saru Jayaraman is most known as a powerful activist for restaurant workers’ rights.

Where was Saru Jayaraman born?

She was born in Whittier, in California.

Is Saru Jayaraman Indian?

She is an American with Indian parents.