Attorneys Can Help When Employers Steal Your Tips

Lawyers at Leeds Brown Law, P.C., representing clients on Long Island and throughout New York, have years of experience fighting for restaurant workers seeking to enforce their rights to keep their gratuities. We understand how high the cost of living is and that you deserve to keep every dollar you have rightfully earned.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there are millions of people working as food and drink servers across the nation. In 2015, of the more than 800,000 people employed in New York State’s food services industry, over 150,000 were waiters and waitresses. Of the more than 40 thousand restaurants here, many pay their workers fairly and in compliance with labor laws. However, as in all industries, some restaurant owners violate state and federal wage-hour laws resulting in less money in the pockets of employees.

Restaurant wait staff rely on tips to supplement their low wages, and the laws that govern gratuities, and hourly wages can be complex. It is difficult to know if you are receiving the amount of money to which you are legally entitled. Have you been asked to share your tips with another employee? Do you notice money missing from your weekly pay?

To help you understand your employment rights, consider speaking with tip theft attorneys at the New York office of Leeds Brown. Our passionate advocates fight for justice whenever an employee is taken advantage of by his or her boss. Wage and hour laws exist to ensure that you are paid fairly for your hard work, and are not exploited or put in danger.

Whether your employer purposefully or unknowingly violates a wage law does not matter. You can enforce your rights. Tips and wages belong to employees. If you are not receiving all of your hourly wages, overtime pay or gratuities, call Leeds Brown.

Are all Restaurant Workers Tipped Employees?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that a tipped employee is only someone who regularly receives tips. The amount of the tips must be greater than $30 per month. Any worker who does not meet this criterion is not considered a tipped employee under the law.

For example, a restaurant cook or dishwasher who does not regularly receive gratuities is not a tipped worker. A bartender at a restaurant, however, is likely to receive tips and is, therefore, a tipped employee.

If you are a tipped employee, you need to know that money belongs to you. Tips are your property and not the property of your employer. Your company can use your tip only in compliance with wage-hour laws allowing its use as a credit toward minimum wage or as part of a valid tip-pooling arrangement.

Tipped Workers on Long Island Keep Gratuities

Has your boss told you to give your tips to the assistant manager because he or she helped you on a busy day? Has your boss demanded that you participate in a tip-sharing arrangement with the restaurant’s bookkeeper, line cooks, and manager? What happens when your customers leave your tip on a credit card? Has your employer ever failed to give you the cash equivalent?

When employers follow state and federal labor laws, all tips belong to employees. Sadly, many clients contact us with stories about tip-theft. Any time an employer unlawfully withholds tips it is called tip-theft, or wage-theft.

Understand the Law-Don’t be a Victim of Tip-Theft

For example, asking a waitress to participate in a tip pool with a worker who does not regularly receive gratuities may be unlawful tip-theft.

It is also tip theft when your employer refuses to pay your tip left on a credit card. He or she is obligated to pay credit card tips on or before the next payday. Even if the credit card company does not pay your employer, withholding or delaying your gratuity is unlawful. When a customer tips an employee by credit card, the tip still belongs to the employee. On Long Island, and in the rest of New York State, an employer may lawfully deduct a portion of the credit card company’s service fee from your tip.

Some restaurant owners try and skirt the law by adding “service charges,” or “service fees” onto the bill and then claiming that the money is not a tip. In New York State, unless the restaurant explicitly notifies the customer that the money will NOT be going to the service worker, that money is considered a tip.

Still others restaurant employers refuse to pay decent minimum hourly wages in addition to gratuities. An employer is required by law to make up the difference between an employee’s tips and the amount of the minimum wage, but there is still an hourly amount they must pay. The “tip credit” and minimum wage vary from state to state but everywhere you go you can find employers trying to avoid paying hourly wages when a worker makes a lot of money in gratuity.

Contact Us

Unfortunately, many workers do not understand some of the more complex minimum wage, overtime and gratuities rules. Even waiters and waitresses who know the laws may not want to enforce their rights, for fear of retaliation, which is also unlawful.

Having experienced attorneys on your side can help ensure that your employer is following the rules and not unlawfully withholding tips and wages.
Our firm has years of experience settling and litigating unpaid wage claims and tip-theft cases for Long Island restaurant workers and others across the region. We have represented thousands of employees in all types of wage and hour disputes and have a proven track record of success. We have recovered back pay and monetary damages for victims of wage theft, tip theft, minimum wage violations, overtime pay violations and more.

If you work in a restaurant, bar or other hospitality industry you likely rely on your tips to make ends meet. Call Long Island’s top wage-hour lawyers at Leeds Brown for a free case evaluation.

Our professional and compassionate team can help you secure the money that rightfully belongs to you. Do not let your employer steal any more of your tips or your time. Call Leeds Brown today at 1-800-585-4658.