Tipped Wages in the United States
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In some states, the minimum wage is different for tipped employees. While state laws may vary, the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires tipped employees to make more than $30 per month in tips and a combined cash and tip minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour. Employees who receive tips can be paid an hourly wage of $2.13 in cash, as long as they make at least $5.12 per hour in tips. If an employee receives fewer tips, the employer must pay the difference, but if the employee receives more tips, the money is theirs to keep. ($5.12 is the maximum tip credit against minimum wage, and employers must always pay an hourly wage of at least $2.13).
All too often, employers fail to pay tipped employees the minimum required wage, steal tips in excess of the maximum “tip credit,” or otherwise use tipped wages to unlawfully reduce employee pay.
If you work as a tipped employee, and your employer has not paid you fairly, discuss your situation with USA Employment Lawyers.
Laws Differ by State
Some states, like California and Alaska, require employers to pay tipped employees a full minimum wage before tips. Others require a higher minimum cash wage than the FSLA, and others still do not have special rules for tipped wages.
If a state does not have specific laws for tipped employees, the FSLA applies. When state law and federal law differ, the employer must operate under the law that is most favorable to the employee.
For example, the minimum cash wage for tipped employees whose employer is taking a tip credit in Florida is currently $6.98, so tipped employees in Florida must make a cash wage of at least $6.98 – even though the FSLA allows a cash wage of $2.13.
Many laws also have specific rules for when tipped wages can and cannot apply. In Hawaii, for instance, a tip credit is only permissible when an employee makes at least $7.00 more than the applicable minimum wage, and in Florida, tipped wages only apply to hours an employee spends working for tips.
To make sure you are being paid fairly, get familiar with the tipped wage laws in your state.
If you are making less than minimum wage (in your state or under the FLSA, whichever is higher), consult our tipped wage attorneys at USA Employment Lawyers.
What About Tip Pooling and Service Charges?
The FLSA directly addresses tip pooling and service charges. Employers, managers, and supervisors are not permitted to receive or take any portion of a tip pool or tip share regardless of whether they are taking a tip credit toward the require minimum wage. Other state laws provide additional protection for tipped employees. Review your state laws to find out if tip pooling and service charges are legal in your state. In some states, only certain kinds of tip pooling are allowed, and some states do not view service charges as tips at all.
If you have reviewed the laws in your state and believe you are facing an illegal employment practice at your workplace, do not hesitate to share your concerns with a lawyer.
Harassment and Discrimination for Tipped Employees
Just because you work for tips does not mean you need to put up with harassment or discrimination. If you feel like you are enduring harassment or suffering a hostile work environment in exchange for tips, speak to an attorney. If you believe you are being scheduled in less favorable shifts or assigned to less busy sections of a tipping establishment (e.g., a restaurant) due to your race, religion, gender, or another protected characteristic, speak to an attorney.
Who Should I Talk To?
Our team at USA Employment Lawyers enjoys helping tipped employees get paid fairly across the United States. We seek to make a difference for our clients, and we take an ethical approach to the law.