Why restaurant workers are likely owed money

The Court system makes thousands of restaurants all over the country pay back workers money the workers are owed.

The U.S. Department of Labor found that in one two-year period, over eighty percent of restaurants violated labor and employment laws. (Click here to read more about that study)

If you’re a restaurant employee, we’ve found out that restaurants often violate the your rights by:

 Paying you less than the minimum wage
 Paying you the server or front-of-house minimum wage for non front-of-house work (For example, paying you $2.31 per hour to roll silverware or wash dishes)
 Refusing to pay you for overtime work
 Failing to give you a meal break
 Requiring you to work even when you’re off the clock

What is the law that applies to restaurant workers?

The regular minimum wage laws don’t apply to “tipped” restaurant workers (workers that earn a significant part of their income from customer tips).
Federal law says that employers can pay tipped workers as little as .13 an hour so long as their tips bring them up to at least the federal minimum wage of .25. This means that tipped workers are often at risk for not being paid lawfully.

Why are tipped workers’ wages not paid?

Restaurant workers are often required to work off-the-clock, both before and after their assigned shifts. Restaurant also direct workers to perform work that would not generate tips – think cleaning and side work that is usually someone else’s duty – without paying proper wages for such work.
Also, restaurants skim workers’ tips and keep a portion for themselves or the restaurant.

What are the specific issues?

All types of restaurants: Well-known restaurants such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Burger King, TGI Friday’s, Dave & Buster’s, McDonald’s, and Jack in the Box all have been sued for not paying their tipped workers appropriately.

Tip credit: A tip credit means a restaurant may pay a tipped employee a lower direct cash wage and count a limited amount of the employee’s tips as a partial credit to satisfy the difference between the direct cash wage and the federal minimum wage. But employers may not take a tip credit for time spent performing certain tasks.

Tip pool: A valid tip pooling or sharing arrangement among employees who customarily and regularly receive tips, such as waiters, is allowed in only some circumstances, so be weary.

Should you contact a wage-and-hour attorney?

Yes. Chris Burks is an experienced wage-and-hour attorney. He is a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association. Chris has represented thousands of employees in employment law cases across the country. His articles on employment law have been published. He knows the wage-and-hour law well and will not stop fighting for your rights.