Restaurant workers may be interested to know that Minnesota is one of only seven states where tipped employees are paid full minimum wage. In 19 other states, employers are allowed to pay a bartender or server as little as $2.13 per hour before gratuity. If the server’s tips don’t boost their pay up to the state minimum wage, then the employee is given a ‘tip credit” to make up the difference.
Right now, tipped workers in the Twin Cities metropolitan area earn an average of $22 per hour from a combination of regular wages and gratuity. If the Minnesota Restaurant Association is successful in its campaign for a ‘tipped employee tier”, that average won’t change with a higher state minimum wage. The tier would put a limit on tipped employee’s wages that would be added to the state’s wage laws. Rather than the $9.50 an hour minimum wage all employees are expected to receive by 2016, tipped employees would earn $8.
According to the executive vice president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association, a raise for tipped employees could take money away from other restaurant positions like prep cooks. He commented that back-of-the-house positions likely would not be receiving a raise as a result of a higher minimum wage.
Regardless of the likelihood of a future ‘tipped employee tier” being enacted, an employer is obligated to comply with the current minimum wage laws as they are structured today. If servers believe their employer has paid them less than minimum wage, they may wish to file a complaint to seek the wages they have been denied. An attorney may be able to assist in gathering supporting financial documentation to present as evidence of an underpayment.
Source: Daily Planet, “Tipped worker pay stirs up minimum wage debate“, Taylor Nachtigal, July 09, 2014