Violations of Minimum Wage for Servers

Restaurant servers are frequently victims of wage theft. Federal law, as well as most states’ laws, allow servers to earn a tipped minimum wage that is lower than the standard minimum wage, only if they make up the difference in tips. In Washington D.C., for example, restaurants only have to pay servers $5.05 an hour, rather than the District’s minimum wage of $15.20 per hour, so long as servers make enough in tips to cover the $10.15/hour difference. Find out your state’s standard minimum wage here.  Learn more about U.S. Department of Labor tipped minimum wage regulations here).

Unfortunately, many restaurants abuse this system in a multitude of ways. If you are a server and a victim of one of these abuses, you could be owed a significant amount in unpaid wages. Here are a few common forms of abuse:

  • Your restaurant makes servers do a substantial amount of “side work” that does not generate tips. If you are a server spending more than 20 percent of your time, or 30 minutes consecutively, on the following tasks, then your employer can no longer pay you the tipped minimum wage, but must pay you the standard minimum wage for each hour you work. This side work may include:
    • rolling silverware
    • stocking condiments
    • refilling the soda machine
    • cleaning the restaurant.
  • Your restaurant makes servers pool tips with (or “tip out” to) back of the house employees such as kitchen staff or expediters. Restaurants are only allowed to have you share tips with others who regularly receive tips.  If they make you tip out to expediters or other back of the house employees, then they also can no longer pay you the tipped minimum wage but must pay you the standard minimum wage for each hour you work.

Are you a server forced to do substantial side work or share tips with back of the house employees?

If so, we would like to speak with you. Please complete the contact form on this page, send us an email at [email protected], or give us a call at (202) 470-3520 for more information.

Attorneys Committed to Fighting Wage Theft

The lawyers at Migliaccio & Rathod LLP have years of experience in class action litigation against large corporations, including in cases involving wage theft and unfair & deceptive trade practices. More information about our current cases and investigations is available on our blog.