President Obama has spent much of his second term zealously pursuing an increase to the current $7.25 federal minimum hourly wage. While it is not clear whether a federal wage hike is in the offing, many states have recently taken measures to increase their own minimum wage rates. Effective January 1, 2014, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have all increased their minimum wage rates. There are also five additional states, California, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, West Virginia, plus the District of Columbia, which have passed legislation … Continue Reading
By Kara Maciel
Our national hospitality practice frequently advises restaurant owners and operators on whether it is legal for employers to pass credit card swipe fees onto employees or even to guests, and the short answer is, yes, in most states. But whether an employer wants to actually pass along this charge and risk alienating their staff or their customers is another question.
With respect to consumers, in the majority of states, passing credit card swipe fees along in a customer surcharge became lawful in 2013. Only ten states prohibit it: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, … Continue Reading
Our colleagues Kara Maciel and Jordan Schwartz, both of Epstein Becker Green, recently cowrote an article for PLC titled “Tipped Employees Under the FLSA.”
Following is an excerpt:
Wage and hour lawsuits certainly are not new phenomena, but in recent years, service industry employees have increasingly made claims regarding tips and service charges. In particular, employers in states such as Massachusetts, New York and California have seen a surge in class actions involving compulsory tip pools and distributions of service charges to employees. Commonly targeted employers include large restaurant and coffee chains, as well as upscale eateries, many … Continue Reading
By: Kara M. Maciel
The following is a selection from the Firm’s October Take 5 Views You Can Use which discusses recent developments in wage hour law.
- IRS Will Begin Taxing a Restaurant’s Automatic Gratuities as Service Charges
Many restaurants include automatic gratuities on the checks of guests with large parties to ensure that servers get fair tips. This method allows the restaurant to calculate an amount into the total bill, but it takes away a customer’s discretion in choosing whether and/or how much to tip the server. As a result of this removal of a customer’s voluntary act, the … Continue Reading
By: Kara M. Maciel
Earlier this month, we released our Wage and Hour Division Investigation Checklist for employers and have received a lot of great feedback with additional questions. Following up on that feedback, we will be regularly posting FAQs as a regular feature of our Wage & Hour Defense Blog.
In this post, we address a common issue that many employers are facing in light of increased government enforcement at the state and federal level from the Department of Labor.
QUESTION: “I am aware that my industry is being targeted by the DOL for audits and several of my competitors … Continue Reading
The restaurant and hospitality industries are no strangers to the tidal wave of wage and hour class action lawsuits. Restaurants and hotel operators located in states with employee-friendly laws like Massachusetts, New York, and California, are particularly vulnerable. This vulnerability was recently confirmed on April 30, 2012, when Texas Roadhouse, Inc. agreed to pay $5 million to settle a putative class action suit filed by wait staff employees from nine restaurants in Massachusetts.
Wage garnishment can pose a number of potential problems for hospitality businesses. This is particularly true where the employee whose pay is subject to garnishment receives tips.
Garnishment is a legal procedure in which an employee’s earnings must be withheld by an employer for the payment of a debt under a court order. When faced with a garnishment order involving a tipped employee, the employer must determine whether all or part of the employee’s tips must be included in the amounts withheld under the garnishment order. This question turns on whether or not the employee’s tips may be characterized … Continue Reading
By Douglas Weiner and Charles H. Wilson
In a recently reported case from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Applebee’s servers and bartenders alleged they spent a “substantial” amount of time performing non-tipped work, such as cleaning and maintenance, and, therefore, should be paid the minimum wage of $7.25 for the time spent performing non-tipped work, rather than the direct wage of $2.13 the FLSA allows employers to pay employees in tipped occupations See 29 U.S.C. § 203(m) and 29 U.S.C. § 203(t).
Applebee’s argued it properly applied a tip credit to the servers and bartenders’ direct wage earnings … Continue Reading
By Betsy Johnson
In light of the IRS’ increased efforts to root out and capture unreported income, one of our hospitality clients recently asked us to provide some clarification regarding: 1) the obligations of employees to report tip income; 2) the obligations of employers to report tip income; and 3) the risks of underreporting of the tip income of its employees.
Employee Obligations: Pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code and regulations, employees are required to report as income all tips they retain. Nevertheless, the actual amount that employees report to the IRS is an individual matter between the employee and the … Continue Reading
By Doug Weiner
In a recently reported case, Applebee’s’ servers alleged they spent a “substantial” amount of time performing non-tipped work, such as cleaning and maintenance, and should be paid the minimum wage 29 U.S.C § 206(A)(1)(c) of $7.25 rather than the direct wage 29 U.S.C. § 203(m) of $2.13 the FLSA 29 U.S.C. § 203(t) allows 29 C.F.R. § 516.28 tipped employees. Fast v. Applebee’s International, Inc.
Applebee’s contends there is no “dual job”, 29 C.F.R. § 531.56(e) as the server’s primary duty is customer satisfaction, and cleaning and maintenance duties are related to the servers primary duty. The … Continue Reading
By Kara Maciel
Another luxury New York hotel is the latest target in a constant stream of wage and hour class actions against the hotel and restaurant industry challenging the industry’s practices relating to tip pools and service charges. At issue in the lawsuit filed in February 2010 is the common practice in the hotel and restaurant industry of charging private dining/banquet customers a mandatory service charge in lieu of the customer leaving a voluntary tip or gratuity on the day of the event. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, a 21.5 percent service charge is added to the customer’s bill … Continue Reading
By Kathryn T. McGuigan and Douglas Weiner
In a landmark decision upholding the validity of the employer’s mandatory tip pool, on February 23, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion in Misty Cumbie v. Woody Woo, Inc. No. 08-35718. The court held that where the employer paid a direct wage of at least minimum wage to restaurant wait staff, requiring them to participate in a tip-pooling arrangement with other restaurant employees does not violate the Fair Labor Standards Act. (“FLSA”)..
The Oregon restaurant took no tip credit, rather paid its wait staff a … Continue Reading
By Amy J. Traub
On December 16, 2009, Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment to Starbucks Corp. (“Starbucks”) in a wage/hour lawsuit filed by former and current baristas of Starbucks’s coffee shops located in New York.
In their lawsuit, filed in April 2008, the New York baristas argued that Starbucks had violated state wage and hour laws by splitting tips intended for baristas with shift supervisors, handing out tips on a weekly basis instead of on a per-shift basis, and failing to distribute tips to baristas-in-training. The … Continue Reading
By now, you are probably aware that the minimum wage under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act goes up to $7.25 on July 24, 2009. Employers with operations in Florida know that this is four cents more than the current Florida minimum wage of $7.21. Florida employers must pay the higher of the two wages.
But what’s the minimum wage for tipped employees in Florida as of July 24th? The answer is not as simple as you might think, and you might be misled by reading the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation web page on the minimum wage. That web page states the new federal minimum wage, and … Continue Reading