Tipped Workers Rights to Fair Wages

Employees working in the food service industry are often employed as tipped employees. Thus, special rules apply to the minimum wage and overtime that must be paid to these types of employees, as well as to the types of work they are allowed to perform. Restaurant and bar employees who feel that their rights to fair wages have been violated may be entitled to additional compensation.

If you worked as a tipped employee, such as a server, bartender, or busboy at a restaurant or bar and were required to perform side work or excessive amounts of non-tipped work during your shift, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced employment lawyers at Golomb & Honik are currently litigating unfair wage treatment and compensation cases; call us at 1-215-278-4449 immediately to evaluate your case.

Tipped Employees and the Right to Fair Wages

Waitresses, busboys, bartenders, servers, and other food industry workers are often paid improperly by their employers and below minimum wage because they are working as tipped employees. Employers do this by engaging in illegal and unethical practices, including:

  • Excessive amounts of non-tipped work duties
  • Retention of tips
  • Tip Pooling
  • Service charges without giving employee tips
  • Meeting or clean up time not paid
  • Illegal deductions for cash register shortages
  • Failure to pay overtime on regular rate or on the full minimum wage

When workers are asked to come into work to perform set-up, clean-up or attend a meeting, companies may be legally required to pay employees at the full minimum wage rate for such time and not at the tip credit rate. Unfortunately, many restaurants and bars routinely break this rule and pay their employees at the tip credit rate for performing duties where they are not eligible to receive or make tips.

Another common practice is requiring a tipped employee to perform excessive amounts of non-tipped work as a requirement of their shift. This may include opening, cleaning, kitchen work, stocking supplies, and other routine service procedures. While this may certainly be part of the job, it is often illegal to require a tipped employee to spend more than 20% of their job time doing work where they are prevented from receiving tips.

Lawsuits Against Unfair Wages

Several employment lawsuits against popular chain restaurants have made the news in recent years. Applebee’s in Pennsylvania is facing litigation for requiring tipped employees to come into work a half an hour before the shift begins and stay at work after the shift is over to perform various maintenance tasks. During this time, they paid their tipped employees subminimum wages which is in violation of several employment acts, including the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act.

The Cheesecake Factory is another chain restaurant that is under similar legal pressure after they reportedly violated the federal minimum wage and overtime laws by requiring their tipped employees to work on custodial tasks and attend meetings without being compensated the minimum wage.

Tipped Employees Know Your Rights

If you are a tipped employee, it is important to understand your rights to receive a fair wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act. If your tips, combined with the employer’s direct wages, do not equal the minimum hourly wage, your employer may be required to make up the difference. In addition, you are not to spend more than 20% of your time performing tasks that do not allow you to receive tips. These tasks can include: cleaning, mopping, sweeping, taking out trash, attending meetings, or stocking shelves.

National Employment Lawyers

If you work or have worked at a restaurant and were required to perform excessive amounts of non-tipped work during your shift, you may be eligible for compensation. To learn more about your legal options or to schedule a free consultation call the experienced employment lawyers at Golomb & Honik today at 1-215-278-4449 or fill out our confidential Contact Form.