August 24, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- The restaurant industry is quickly growing in the U.S. About 10 million people work in restaurants across the country, according to a report by the Food Chain Workers Alliance. The report highlighted a painful irony: many who work in restaurants cannot afford to feed themselves. Restaurant workers and other employees who depend on tips often earn less than minimum wage. Employers commonly engage in practices that ensure that their employers do not earn minimum wage, even though employers are obligated to make sure that their employees earn sufficient amounts of money.
Federal law regarding tipped employees
The Fair Labor Standards Act sets the minimum wage for hourly employees. Since 2009, the minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour. States are free to set minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate, and Florida has done so. Florida's minimum wage is $7.79.
However, the law exempts some people from the minimum wage requirement
. One of the main exceptions to the minimum wage law is tipped employees. The law defines a tipped employee as "any employee engaged in an occupation in which he customarily and regularly receives more than $30 per month in tips." Some common examples of tipped employees are restaurant servers, hosts and hostesses, bartenders, bellhops and table bussers. Case law has established that cooks or chefs, janitors, dishwashers and wash room attendants are not tipped employees for the purposes of the FLSA.
Employer obligations to tipped employees
The law allows employers to offset the minimum wage rate of tipped employees, with the assumption that the employees will make up the difference in tips. Federal law sets the minimum wage of tipped employees at $2.13. Florida law states that employers may only offset tipped employees' wages
by up to $3.02 per hour. However, if a tipped employee's earning in hourly wages and tips for the entire week do not equal $7.25 an hour for each hour worked in the week, the employer is supposed to make up the difference.
Employer practices harming tipped employees
One of the most typical things that employers do that results in tipped employees not earning minimum wage is simply failing to make up the difference between the amount employees earn in their reduced hourly wage and tips and what the employees would have earned working at minimum wage. Another way that employers harm employees is by requiring tip pools, where all the tipped employees working in a given shift have to split the tips they collect evenly. In some cases, the tip pool includes employees that do not qualify as tipped employees under federal law, such as dishwashers and cooks. Finally, some employers violate employees' rights by having the employees do side work that does not result in tips, such as dishwashing or cleaning, for more than 20 percent of the employees' shifts and still taking the tip offset for the employees' wages.
Tipped employees work hard for their money, and employers should not be able to take advantage of their employees without suffering penalties. If you are a tipped employee and your employer has not paid you enough, seek the assistance of a skilled employment law attorney with a history of successfully handling wage violation cases.
Article provided by Feldman Morgado, P.A.
Visit us at www.floridatrialattorneys.net/