Four Rights You Have as a Restaurant Server

 In Wage Law

Laws for Restaurant Servers

Whether you are a restaurant server working in the front of the house or working back of the house, working in a restaurant is not easy. To make matters worse, in our experience, restaurants commonly violate federal wage laws. Even the Department of Labor’s wage and hour division reports that 84% of full-service restaurants that the bureau investigated between 2010 and 2012 violated labor standards. Given these violations as well numerous challenges that restaurant workers face, it is important for restaurant workers to understand some of the basics about restaurant labor laws. In addition to the Common Violations listed on our Legal Center for Restaurant Employees, consider the following four rights that all restaurant servers have.

Servers are Legally Entitled to Fair Compensation

The restaurant industry is constantly involved in lawsuits concerning the treatment of restaurant servers. The federal law known as the Fair Labor Standards Act is just one of many laws designed to ensure that restaurant servers receive a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. If you receive less compensation than you are legally due, or less than your coworkers who work the same amount of time as you, it is a violation of your rights as a restaurant worker.

Restaurant Servers are Not Required to Pay for Business Expenses

Employers are prohibited from holding restaurant servers accountable for business losses or expenses, which can include things like customer walkouts, order mistakes, and register shortages. An employer is prohibited from making any deductions from a restaurant server’s wages as a result of these expenses. If you are in a situation in which a restaurant is withholding your pay because you made a mistake while checking out a customer, this is a violation of your rights a restaurant worker.

Restaurant Servers are Legally Entitled to Retain Tips

Not only do restaurant workers have a right to tips, but many restaurants workers receive more in tips than in hourly wages from the restaurant, making this form of payment particularly important. Despite a right to receive and keep tips, there are a number of ways that employers will deprive their employees of their rightful compensation.

For example, if a restaurant pays a credit card processing fee for a tip, the issue arises of whether the fee should be deducted from the tip. In many situations, however, if a restaurant is keeping your tips, this likely violates your rights as a worker. Another example is when restaurants require servers to share tips back-of-the-house employees or a manager who is working as a “bartender.” Because tips belong to workers, restaurants are also prohibited from taking a share of a server’s tips.

Restaurant Servers are Legally Entitled to Minimum Wage

As of May 2019, all non-exempt workers in the U.S. are entitled to receive a minimum wage of at least $7.25 an hour or in some situations, a “tipped” minimum wage, which includes tips. There are many complexities to this area of law. For example, if a restaurant worker spends 20% of his or her time on tasks that are not associated with the generation of tips, the worker should be paid at least the federal minimum wage. Other requirements include that restaurants must pay workers the full amount of overtime due for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week. A restaurant employer is prohibited from deducting the cost of uniforms or other work expenses if this deduction results in employees’ wages being reduced below minimum wage.

Speak with an Attorney Experienced in Representing Restaurant Servers

A large part of our practice is devoted to representing waiters and waitresses across the United States. It is staggering the number of restaurants that are oblivious or simply turn a blind eye to legal requirements with regard to overtime, treatment of tips, and other basic wage and tip laws.  If you are a restaurant server who was paid less than you were owed by an employer, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced lawyer. Contact Herrmann Law today: 817-479-9229 or submit your case online (here) and someone from our office will contact you to schedule an appointment.

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