How Restaurant workers get Cheated.

Do you work in a restaurant – as a Waiter, Busboy, or in the kitchen?

Even if you receive tips, your boss must still pay a minimum wage, plus overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.  Under certain circumstances, you can receive a lower (tip credited) minimum wage as a tipped employee. For instance, a food service worker can receive a minimum wage of $7.50 per hour, as long as he earns the minimum wage ($7.25 under Federal Law and between $10.00 and $11.00 per hour under New York State Law, depending on the size and location of the employer) after tips are included.  You must also receive time and one half the minimum wage for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.

But many bosses don’t pay tipped food service employees the proper tip-credited minimum wage – currently $7.50 per hour. Many bosses don’t pay overtime – time and one half of the tip-credited minimum wage – when the restaurant employee works over 40 hours of work in one week.  Some restaurants don’t pay a wage at all, and the employees earn only tips.  This is how bosses steal from their workers.

For a tipped food service worker to qualify for the reduced (tip credited) minimum wage, the worker must have a tip pool or tip share, and a written notice must be provided by the employer.  Importantly, only food service employees may be in the tip pool.  For instance, tipped employees can “tip out”  the bartender, bus boy, food runner, or hostess, but they can never be required to tip out kitchen employees (who are not directly involved in food service to customers).  Bosses who make their wait staff to pay kitchen employees are stealing from their wait staff. This is illegal.

Also, tipped employees cannot have anything deducted from their minimum wage pay, like the cost of uniforms, cost of laundering uniforms, charges for customers who walk out, or charges for broken items.

If your boss is violating the law, you are entitled to recover double damages, as long as you can prove your boss cheated you intentionally.  You can collect damages six years from when you file a complaint, and your boss will likely be personally liable for these damages.  He may also be liable for additional damages.

Don’t let your boss keep money you earned.  Click on WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT? to recover money your boss has stolen from you.

(Photo by RDikeman)