Service Workers Are Protected from Tip & Gratuity Theft

Wage Theft Attorneys Help Service Workers Recover Stolen Tips

If you work in the restaurant, hotel, fast food, or hospitality industry, then you are entitled to the tips and gratuities that patrons and guests pay to you. However, far too often, New York workers are often subject to stolen tips, have to share tips with ineligible workers, or are kept in the dark about the true amount of tips that were left for them. Don’t guess how much you may be owed. Speak to the attorneys at Leeds Brown Law, P.C. to know your rights and potential avenues to help you collect tips.

Unpaid wage lawyers at Leeds Brown Law, P.C., representing employees in New York City, Long Island and the greater metropolitan area, have decades of experience advocating for the rights of restaurant workers. Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and others employed by the food service and hospitality industries have long been in good hands with our firm. There are thousands of restaurant in our practice area, and we know how hard it can be when you rely on unpredictable tips to supplement your small hourly wage. It is even more challenging when you work for an employer who violates the law, paying you less than the amount to which you are entitled, effectively stealing your wages.

Rules that govern how to pay workers who regularly receive tips are complicated and confusing. There are provisions in state and federal legislation that determine your hourly wage, overtime eligibility and calculations, and receipt of tips but the laws as they apply to restaurant workers are unique. It is not always easy to know when your employer is violating the law and whether you are getting the full amount of your pay. You may be afraid to ask your boss because you can’t afford to lose your job.

You do not have to face this situation alone. If you think your employer is not paying you wages or tips you have earned, you may be a victim of wage theft and should consider contacting an employment law attorney who has experience with wage-hour cases and the rights of employees who work for tips.

At Leeds Brown, we have the professionals you need. Our lawyers are passionate advocates who fight for employees whenever they are taken advantage of in the workplace. We try to ensure that, in New York, employees keep all the money they rightfully earn. Not receiving all of your tips? Not getting overtime pay or the legal minimum wage? Contact us for a free case evaluation.

What Does it Mean to be Tip Employee?

What it means to be a tip or tipped employee or worker is defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA sets most of the rules for overtime, minimum wages, and tips. According to the Act, if you regularly receive over thirty dollars per month in tips, you are considered to be a tipped worker.

Workers in specific areas like NYC and New York are eligible for additional protections, including the New York Labor Law and the Hospitality Wage Law. Workers in other states may be protected by similar laws or be given the right to sue under contract or quasi-contract theories (i.e. unjust enrichment or conversion).

The attorneys at Leeds Brown Law, P.C. are familiar with many of the tip and gratuity protections that exist — whether you work for a high-end restaurant or a local diner down the street. Service workers are entitled to protections. Call 516.873.9550.

Tipped Workers Keep Tips

If you are by legal definition a tipped employee, you are entitled to keep your tips. They are your property. When your employer retains your tips, asks you to share them, uses them improperly toward your wages or otherwise withholds money you have earned, you may be a victim of wage theft or tip theft. Understanding your rights to retain your gratuities and the obligations of your employer can go a long way towards determining if you need to file an unpaid wage claim. If you have questions about your paycheck and receipt of tips, contact Leeds Brown.

There are very limited circumstances in which your employer may legally “use” your tips.

  • Tip Credit – Your employer may use part of your tips as a credit toward the minimum wage, the amount of which is determined by law. Tip-credit amounts and minimum wage amounts vary in different states and sometimes within different regions. It can be hard to understand the way tip-credits work. Employers may accidentally or intentionally apply the wrong tip credit, which can result in paying you lower wages.
  • Tip Pooling or Tip Sharing – Your employer may have you participate in a valid tip pooling or tip-sharing arrangement. A valid or lawful tip pool is one that includes only other tip employees such as wait staff or bartenders. The group may not include anyone who does not regularly receive tips like cooks or kitchen helpers. It is unlawful for your employer even to ask you to share your tips with any non-tipped worker. Often, restaurant owners and managers take a percentage of employees’ gratuities for themselves which is also illegal.
  • Tips on Credit Cards – When customers put your tips on credit cards they belong to you. Your employer must pay those tips to you in your next paycheck or before. It does not matter if the credit card company has not yet paid your place of business.Credit card companies charge a fee, a percentage, to use their services which the business owner typically pays. However, if your customer leaves a tip for you on the credit card, your employer may deduct a portion of the fee from your tip. For example, if a credit card company charges 3% for all transactions, the employer may deduct 3% of your tip amount to put towards the fee.
  • “Service Charges” or “Administrative Charges” – In New York, any charge added to a bill such as a service charge or service fee, regardless of what it is called, is a gratuity that belongs to employees. Employers often try to avoid paying this money to tipped workers under the guise that they are not truly tips. However, unless a business clearly notifies its customers that these charges are not for the employees, that money belongs to the employees. Charges added to a bill are assumed to be for the worker unless clearly stated otherwise.

Contact Us

Attorneys at Leeds Brown know that the rules about paying tipped employees are complicated and that they are rapidly changing. In New York City, Long Island and the surrounding areas, it is hard enough to make ends meet without worrying if you are receiving all of the wages to which you are legally entitled. If you suspect that your employer is stealing your tips or miscalculating your paycheck, contact our office for a free consultation.

Leeds Brown has been litigating and settling wage theft claims for restaurant workers for years and have successfully recovered unpaid wages, unpaid overtime, stolen tips, and other compensation for thousands of employees in the New York City area.

Do not let your employer take wages and tips that belong to you. Call Leeds Brown, professional and passionate advocates for restaurant workers, for a free case evaluation. Someone is here 24/7 to take your call. Time may be of the essence so call wage theft today 1-516-873-9550.

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