Tipped Employees

Does your employer make you participate in a tip pool that forces you to tip out managers and janitorial staff? Are you not paid minimum wage when accounting your total wages and your total hours worked? If so, you might have been the victim of an improper tip pool and as such you have had your tips illegal taken. As such, you need attorneys with the passion and expertise to represent you in righting this wrong.

Houston employment lawyers Robert J. Wiley and Kalandra N. Wheeler represent Houston workers who have been the victims of illegal tip pools. They have the experience to make sure that every avenue is pursued and no stone is left unturned. In short, when you have had your tips taken from you, you need an attorney that understands your situation and that will fight for you.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) employers are able to compensate tipped employees $2.13 an hour. This is substantially less that the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In exchange for this substantial benefit your employer must abide by the strict guidelines set forth by the FLSA. The guidelines specify when an employer can engage in a tip pool, who can benefit from a tip pool, and when they have to further compensate a tipped employee when that tip pool does not adequately compensate employees.

The FLSA states that only “customarily tipped employees” can receive tips from a tip pool. Common examples for individuals who CANNOT be tipped out include:
  • Dishwashers;
  • Cooks;
  • Chefs;
  • Janitors;
  • Managers;
  • Owners; and
  • Any personnel that may be considered back of the house.
The standard that is used when determining if an employee can participate in a tip pool is if that employee is customarily tipped or for a lack of better words, employees that serve customers. A good way of thinking of this is putting yourself in the shoes of the customer. When they leave a tip, who are they most likely thinking of when they leave that tip?

If your employer violates these guidelines they must go back for up to three years, depending on the facts of the case, and pay minimum wage for every hour worked. The employer would in essence lose their ability to claim a tip credit in their compensation of tipped employees. This means that the employer would be on the hook for paying $5.12 or more for every hour worked in which the illegal tip pool existed.

Furthermore, just because you are a tipped employee does not mean that you are not eligible to receive overtime. When calculating you minimum wage you should include overtime rates for any hours worked over 40 per week. This is the minimum amount of wages you should be receiving for every pay period.

If you employer is engaging in an illegal tip pool you may be owed hundreds if not thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. That is why you must keep diligent records and be ever vigilant that your rights are not being violated.  

The only way to defend, not only your rights as a hard working employee, but those of others is to step forward. Do not let your employer take money that is rightfully yours. We can only do our job if workers step forward and fight unfair employment practices. It can be difficult to step forward and take a stand and that is why you need a team of professionals that will be with you every step of the way.

Take Action

If you feel you have been the victim of an illegal tip pool, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. If you contact us, you will meet with an attorney to discuss your matter. If we believe a violation of the law has occurred and if you decide to hire us, we will sign a representation agreement and enforce your rights.