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Can restaurants make servers clean up?



In Connecticut and Massachusetts, not unless they pay them the full minimum wage!

In both Connecticut and Massachusetts, servers (waiters and waitresses) are paid a lower minimum wage because they get tips. Their employer may not pay this lower wage, however, unless they are actually working as servers. They must be waiting on people at tables or booths and earning enough tips to cover the difference between the server wage and the regular minimum wage.

Many restaurants violate this law when they assign non-service work to servers. They have them work before the restaurant is open, do general cleaning and stocking work and stay late after the restaurant is closed. Of course, the servers don’t get tipped for that work (say, rolling silverware) and so they should be paid the full minimum wage for that work.

In Connecticut, a server who is paid illegally under this law can recover “twice the full amount of such minimum wage less any amounts paid by the employer.” They can also recover attorneys’ fees and costs.

This means that a server who worked a 30 hour week and spent about 5 on “sidework” can recover about $12 per hour for all 30 hours! Over the two years that the law allows for these suits, this can add up to over $30,000, plus attorneys’ fees!

In Massachusetts, servers who also engage in non-tipped work, such as kitchen work or cleaning before or after shifts, must be paid at least the state minimum wage (presently $10.00 per hour) for those hours worked.  Employers who violate Massachusetts law with respect to tips are liable for three times the amount of unpaid wages plus costs, interest and attorney’s fees.

Contact The Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore with any questions!