Empowering Servers: A Guide to Nontipped Duties & Side Work (Part 4)

 In Overtime Law, Wage Law

Decoding Side Work: Servers’ Guide to Nontipped Duties & Side Work

This is part 4 of our informative series, Empowering Servers, and today we unravel another issue that’s all too common in the restaurant industry – nontipped duties and side work. By unpacking the laws surrounding these tasks, providing an array of practical examples, we aim to enhance your understanding and empower you to protect your rights. If you’re a server or bartender

grappling with legal questions about your employer’s policies, including requiring you to performed nontipped tasks, you’re in the right place. Stay tuned for the next article in our ongoing Empowering Servers blog series which will focus on forced ‘tip pooling‘ or ‘tip sharing.’

Lowdown on Side Work

Decoding Two Types of Nontipped Duties

Within the restaurant industry, it’s commonplace for servers to be assigned tasks beyond customer service, which is legally classified as “nontipped” duties or commonly referred to as “side work”. It’s vital for servers to grasp the distinction between the two types of nontipped duties: those unrelated to serving and those that are integral to your server role.

The Lowdown on Unrelated Nontipped Duties

Unrelated nontipped duties encompass tasks that do not directly facilitate the service of customers. Examples might include deep cleaning the kitchen, washing windows, painting, and even administrative tasks such as inventory management.Janitorial work is not sidework

Crucially, it’s illegal for employers to pay servers the server wage ($2.13/hr) for these tasks. Instead, they must be paid at least the full federal minimum wage, currently $7.25/hr.

Example 1: Sarah is a server. Once a week, her boss asks her to deep clean the restaurant, a task taking 8 hours. Despite not earning tips for this work, Sarah is paid her usual server wage of $2.13/hr, totaling $17.04 for the entire day. This practice is illegal.

Example 2: John, another server, is tasked with managing the restaurant’s inventory every week. He spends a few hours ordering supplies and checking stock levels, all the while earning $2.13/hr. This is a breach of federal law.

Side Work: The Ins and Outs of Related Nontipped Duties

Side work pertains to duties directly related to the role of a server, such as setting tables, refilling condiments, preparing silverware, and cleaning your assigned sections. It’s important to note that legally, this side work should not exceed 20% of a server’s total working time, nor extend for more than 30 continuous minutes.

Example 1: Mike, a server, spends the first hour of every shift refilling condiments and folding napkins for his tables. If Mike’s total shift lasts 5 hours, this side work (20% of his shift) is within legal limits.

Example 2: Emily, another server, spends 2 hours of her 6-hour shift setting up patio tables and restocking the server station. This constitutes one-third of her shift, clearly exceeding the legal 20% limit.

What is Excessive Side Work

Noncompliance is Rampant

Disturbingly, a vast number of restaurants fall short of nontipped duty rules. Instead of recruiting additional personnel or outsourcing these tasks, they exploit servers with excessive side work and unrelated nontipped duties, compensating them with a mere $2.13/hr.

Consider this: if you’re asked to report 1-2 hours before the restaurant opens to perform side work, there’s no opportunity to earn tips. Nonetheless, you are paid the server wage as if you are actively serving customers. This unfair and illegal practice is widespread.

Knowledge is Power: Know Your RightsWaiter pay

As a server, familiarizing yourself with your rights is the first line of defense in protecting your wages. If you believe your employer is contravening the laws regarding nontipped duties, it’s time to stand up for your rights. If you believe your rights have been violated, the employee rights attorneys at Herrmann Law are ready to fight for your cause. Feel free to call us at (817) 479-9229 or submit your information to us online for review and someone from our office will contact you within 1 business day.

Workers Rights Attorneys

Take Action if Your Employer is Requiring You to Perform Nontipped Duties & Excessive Side Work

At Herrmann Law, we are committed to supporting and empowering servers. If you’re facing an employer who seemingly requires you to perform a never ending list of nontipped duties and side work, we encourage you to connect with one of our experienced wage and hour attorneys by calling 817-479-9229 or submit your information to us online for review.

We’re more than a law firm – through our tireless advocacy and legal representation for servers and bartenders, we are empowering servers and bartenders across the country. #EmpoweringServers #SideWork #ServersRights #FLSA #FairWages #RestaurantLaws


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