What if I said that your next paycheck won’t be going to you any longer. Instead it will now be given to someone else – your boss - who may or may not give you your hard-earned money. How would you feel? I’m sure you’ll agree that this scenario is outrageous.
Yet that is the essence of what the Department of Labor is proposing for money earned from tips by restaurant employees. Instead of the tips going directly to restaurant wait staff , they will instead be given to restaurant owners to potentially use at their own discretion.
I’ve worked in restaurants for over ten years, first as a cook and then eventually as a restaurant owner. I love the restaurant industry for many reasons, and one of them is that it gives opportunities to people that may not have many other employment options. It is considered low-skill work, and the pay is generally low. Sadly though, getting paid fairly for hours one works, cannot be taken for granted in the restaurant industry. I vividly remember a conversation in a basement kitchen with a fellow cook, who showed me his check and pointed out that he never was paid for the full hours he worked each week. I was surprised and upset at hearing this. But what could he do, he said, he needed the job. I was new to the industry then, and I eventually learned that instances of wage theft like this aren’t uncommon.
I’m a restaurant owner now, and believe that the proposed new rule by the Department of Labor is backwards. It gives more opportunity for potential wage theft not to mention that it is also generally the intention of restaurant goer to have their tips go to their servers. There needs to be stronger protections for restaurant workers to keep their tips, not less.
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