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Restaurant Employee Rights in Connecticut: What is the 80/20 Rule?

On January 6th, 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed House Bill 7501—legislation that, among other things, officially codified the 80/20 rule as a part of state law. Tipped employees in Hartford, CT should have a basic understanding of their rights under this regulation. Below, our Hartford restaurant employee rights attorneys highlight the key things you should know about the 80/20 rule. 

Connecticut’s 80/20 Rule: Defined

In Hartford, all employers must comply with Connecticut’s minimum wage law. Though, when certain conditions are met, restaurants can take a ‘tip credit’—paying servers less in direct wages on the grounds that their pay will be made up in customer gratitudes. As explained by the Connecticut Department of Labor, employers can only take the tip credit if employees are engaged in “service work”. 

Here is the issue: Many tipped employees in restaurants perform some non-service work during the day. Some examples of non-service work include things like assisting the kitchen with light prep work and doing setup/shutdown duties while the restaurant is closed to customers. This is where the 80/20 rule comes into play. 

Under Connecticut law, employers cannot take a tipped wage credit for ‘non-service’ work if an employee spends at least 20 percent of their total hours doing non-tipped tasks. To ensure compliance with the 80/20 rule, restaurants in Connecticut have legal responsibility to keep track of how tipped employees are spending their time. If you spend more than 20 percent of your workday on non-tipped duties, you must be paid at least minimum wage in direct wages for those hours. 

What to Do If You Believe Your Wage and Hour Rights are Being Violated

Employees deserve full and fair wages for their hard work. Too many tipped employees in the restaurant and hospitality industries are improperly underpaid. If you believe you were denied fair wages in violation of the 80/20 rule, you should take action to protect your rights. Here are three steps to take to protect yourself:  

  1. Gather and organize all of your recent pay stubs and financial records; 
  2. Take a moment to write down what happened—with as many details as possible; and
  3. Consult with an experienced Hartford employment attorney. 

A lawyer will be able to review the specific facts of your case, explain your rights and options, and help you take action to get the full wages you rightfully earned. In many cases, this means filing a complaint with the Wage and Workplace Standards Division of the Connecticut Department of Labor. 

Call Our Hartford Restaurant Employee Rights Lawyers Today

At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC, our Connecticut employment law attorneys have the skills, training, and experience to assist tipped employers in the restaurant/hospitality industry.  If you have questions about the 80/20 rule, our legal team can help. For a fully private review of your case, please contact our Hartford law office at (860) 522-8888. We represent restaurant workers throughout the region, including in Waterbury, Mansfield, Middletown, and New Britain.