Restaurant and Service Workers

Restaurant and Service Workers  

 Under both federal and state law, waiters, bartenders, cocktail servers, bussers, runners and other service workers generally must receive the applicable minimum wage for each hour worked, and must receive overtime compensation (time-and-a-half) for each hour worked over forty (40) hours in a workweek.

In the service industry, employers are permitted to pay their service employees a lower “tipped minimum wage” and take a “credit” for the tips their employees receive, as long as the employee’s tips make up the difference between the hourly wage paid and the applicable full minimum wage, for each hour worked in a workweek. 

For example, in the District of Columbia, the minimum wage is currently $17.00 per hour and the tipped minimum wage is $6.00 per hour. So, while it is permissible for a restaurant industry employer to pay its service staff the lower tipped minimum wage of $8.00 per hour, in order for the employer to comply with the D.C. Minimum Wage Revisions Act, the employee must also receive tips equal to at least $9.00 per hour.  Otherwise, the employer must pay the difference. 

In New Jersey, the tipped minimum wage is currently $5.26 per hour.  Same is in D.C., the employee’s tips must make up the difference between the tipped minimum wage paid and the full New Jersey minimum wage. 

However, in order to take a “tip credit” towards it minimum wage obligations to its employees, a restaurant industry employer must provide specific notices to its employees regarding the tip credit.  In the District of Columbia, for example, employers are required to provide their employees with written notice of the employee’s pay rate, the employer’s use of a “tip credit,” and the terms of a valid tip-pooling or tip-sharing policy (if utilized by the employer). Additionally, employers in D.C. are required to post their tip-sharing policy within their business.  

If employers do not comply with these notice requirements, the employees may have a legal claim for significant amounts of unpaid wages against the employer.

How can we help?

Goodley McCarthy is experienced in representing workers in unpaid wage lawsuits. Typically, we bring these cases as a class action, so you won't be fighting the company by yourself. You will have a team of lawyers representing you and your co-workers. And because we take these cases on a contingent fee basis, there's no cost to you. We don't get paid unless we get money for you and the class.

​What should I do next?

Contact us today. One of our lawyers will contact you to schedule a free 30-minute consultation so that we can get your side of the story and evaluate your rights under the applicable state and federal wage and hour laws.

Here are some common wage and tip violations that occur in the restaurant industry:

  • The restaurant (or bar) or its managers impermissibly keep or retain a portion of the service workers’ tips. This is not permitted. 
  • The restaurant pays its servers no hourly wages at all. Even if the service employees receive hundreds of dollars in tips each night, the employer still must pay the applicable tipped minimum wage for each hour worked, regardless of the amount of tips earned. In New York City, the tipped minimum wage is $12.50 per hour
  • A restaurant’s tip-sharing policy requires its service staff to share tips with staff who do not have customer interaction. A waiter or bartender cannot be required to share their tips with line cooks or dishwashers who have no customer interaction. 
  • Service employees cannot be paid the tipped minimum wage for all hours worked, when not all of those hours are spent serving customers. For example, if a service worker spends hours each day cleaning the restaurant, the employee must be paid the full applicable minimum wage for those non-service hours spent cleaning.   

The attorneys at Goodley McCarthy LLC have successfully recovered millions of dollars in unpaid wages for thousands of workers under federal, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and District of Columbia law.  If you believe you may be owed unpaid wages or tips, contact Goodley McCarthy LLC for a free consultation. 

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