American Association for Justice
Greater Lowell

Tipped Employee Wage Claims

Massachusetts Wage & Hour Attorneys

If you work at a restaurant, bar or other facility where you are tipped, most of the money that you earn doesn’t come from your company, but instead from its customers. Even still, there are rules and regulations in place so that you get treated fairly and actually earn money for the hard work you do. When your boss or company doesn’t pay you the money it owes you, you can file a lawsuit for unpaid wages.

What is the Tipped Minimum Wage?

In Massachusetts, there is a different minimum wage for workers who earn tips. As of 2020, the normal minimum wage is $12.75 per hour, and it will go up every year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2023. If you receive tips, your employer only needs to pay you $4.75 per hour. That will also go up every year until it reaches $6.75 in 2023.

But, that doesn’t mean that you’re not entitled to the normal minimum wage. Your employer is required to make sure that the amount it pays you along with the tips you earn equal at least the regular minimum wage. That means that if you have a slow week and don’t earn many tips, your boss has to pay you the difference between what you earned and the minimum wage.

When Should The Minimum Wage Be Calculated?

According to the Massachusetts Attorney General, the minimum wage calculation should be done at the end of every shift, as opposed to every pay period. So, a restaurant cannot use a large tip on one night to offset a lack of tips on a slow night.

For example, if a bartender came to work at 5 PM and then stayed until 1 AM, the restaurant would have to pay a Tipped Minimum Wage of $38.00. Then, the employee will need to earn at least $64 in tips to get to the normal minimum wage of $12.75/hour. If it’s a slow night and the bartender only made $30 in tips, the restaurant would have to pay him/her the extra $34 on top of the Tipped Minimum Wage of $38.00

What are the Rules for a Tip Pool?

Massachusetts allows tips to be pooled together. This means that some or all of the tips are put in a pot and divided among various tipped employees. This is a way that some restaurants ensure that service staff such as service bartenders are able to share in the tips earned by other employees.

However, there are rules to make sure that these tip pools are handled fairly. This includes a rule that tip pools cannot be shared with anyone who is not a tipped waitstaff. At the same time, tip pools cannot be shared with anyone who has managerial responsibilities. This includes managers and owners. So, even if a manager or owner gets behind the bar on a busy night, he/she cannot share in any of the tips that are pooled together.

Should I Talk to a Lawyer?

In Massachusetts, most cases for Unpaid Wages include a claim for Attorneys’ Fees. That means that if you’re owed Unpaid Wages, the law says that your company has to pay your lawyer’s fees. So, most workers pursuing claims for unpaid wages won’t need to pay anything out of pocket to hire a lawyer.

At Marcotte Law Firm, our attorneys have experience pursuing claims for Unpaid Wages. If you’re a tipped worker whose restaurant or bar owes you money, call for a free, no obligation consultation.

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