Should Connecticut Servers Be Paid The Minimum Wage?

waitress

There is a bill presently pending in the Connecticut General Assembly which, if passed, will eliminate restaurant employers’ right to reduce servers’ wages on account of tips. Presently Connecticut restaurant employers are permitted to pay servers approximately 29% less than the minimum wage on account of tips received from customers. This rule entitles restaurant employers to pay Connecticut servers $6.38 per hour for service work rather than the full minimum wage of $10.10 per hour. Restaurant employers get to keep $3.72 out of their servers’ hourly pay because of tips left for these servers by their customers.

The state of California decided a long time ago to do away with its tip credit law. Servers in California restaurants are paid the full minimum wage and receive tips from their customers. Despite complaints from the restaurant industry about the supposed detrimental effect such a rule would have on the restaurant industry, restaurants still exist in the state of California, and remain profitable.

The proposed Connecticut law, Raised Bill No. 7084 An Act Concerning Employee Wages, will bring Connecticut’s treatment of restaurant workers in line with California. This bill will also eliminate employers’ entitlement to pay trainees a lower wage while in training.

Not surprisingly the restaurant industry is beginning a campaign against this bill. A petition is being circulated online designed to obtain employees’ signatures against the bill. This petition starts with the phrase “CT Legislature: don’t slash my earnings!” Of course this title is wildly misleading. The bill is entitled to increase the earnings of servers – not slash them. The petition argues that if this bill becomes law, restaurants will ban tipping from patrons. While it certainly is true that restaurants could post signs saying “please don’t tip our servers,” such a practice is extremely unlikely and would probably result in that restaurant being unable to hire servers to work there. Keep in mind that California servers are paid its full minimum wage and restaurants there have not banned tipping.

There is another petition circulating on this topic entitled “Help Servers Make a Decent Living.” This petition supports the bill, and explains the true purpose of the law.

The Connecticut Department of Labor has a website which explains the current laws and regulations on this topic. It is entitled Gratuities in the Restaurant Industry. Many restaurants violate this law as it is presently written by taking the tip credit against servers’ wages even when they are not serving. Restaurants frequently assign non-service duties called “side-work” which should be paid at the full minimum wage. Most restaurants, however, pay for this work at the service rate and take a tip credit even though servers are not being tipped for this work. There have been many lawsuits against restaurants who violate this rule. Click here to learn more.

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