Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Utilizamos cookies, próprios e de terceiros, que o reconhecem e identificam como um usuário único, para garantir a melhor experiência de navegação, personalizar conteúdo e anúncios, e melhorar o desempenho do nosso site e serviços. Esses Cookies nos permitem coletar alguns dados pessoais sobre você, como sua ID exclusiva atribuída ao seu dispositivo, endereço de IP, tipo de dispositivo e navegador, conteúdos visualizados ou outras ações realizadas usando nossos serviços, país e idioma selecionados, entre outros. Para saber mais sobre nossa política de cookies, acesse link.

Caso não concorde com o uso cookies dessa forma, você deverá ajustar as configurações de seu navegador ou deixar de acessar o nosso site e serviços. Ao continuar com a navegação em nosso site, você aceita o uso de cookies.

This Lawsuit Could Change How Waiters Get Paid

Servers who make as little as $2.13 an hour are suing to be paid properly for the hours they work without tips.

Posted on April 21, 2017, at 5:04 p.m. ET

Andresr / Getty Images

Restaurant waiters and other workers who earn most of their money from tips are only entitled to a $2.13 hourly wage from their employers, according to federal law. Now, a group of them are suing, saying they should be paid a regular hourly wage for all the work they do that doesn't bring in tips, like sweeping floors.

On Thursday, a federal court heard arguments in a case that could have consequences for all employers who pay tipped workers less than minimum wage. In Arizona, three servers at Chinese-themed restaurant P.F. Chang's and a server at Village Inn argue that they're owed full hourly wages for time spent preparing food and cleaning, work for which they do not receive tips. The two companies did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

While a Congressional definition says workers who "customarily receive more than $30 a month in tips" can be paid the federal tipped minimum wage, a separate guide published by the Labor Department says people who spend more than 20% of their time on non-tipped work should receive full wages for that time.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

The servers in the case recount spending more than 20% of their time on non-tipped work like scrubbing walls, cleaning seats, refilling salt and pepper shakers, brewing tea and coffee, and rolling silverware. They allege that their employers have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by denying them full pay for that time worked. A lower court dismissed the claims, which they then appealed.

P.F. Chang’s argued that the classification of a tipped worker as someone who receives more than $30 a month in tips is the key definition, and that the Labor Department handbook is inconsistent with the intent of law.

Should the court rule in favor of the workers, not only will they receive back pay, but other tipped workers who are tasked with non-tipped work may qualify for financial relief for time worked as well.

The Department of Labor has filed an amicus brief in the case in support of the 20% interpretation.

Luca Sartoni / Flickr

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.