The New York Times editorial board published an important piece explaining why workers who are paid mostly by tips are deserving of a long overdue raise. Currently the federal Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers of tipped workers to pay their tipped workers less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour in wages. Employers are allowed to pay their tipped employees $2.13 an hour with the tips making up the difference between what the employers pay in a wage and what the tipped worker takes home.
As the piece point out, this is an important issue that affects a large number of people. Approximately 3.3 million people earn most of their pay from tips. Because of gender patterns in the types of jobs people work it is estimated that three quarters of the 3.3 million tipped employees are women. Employees who are paid mostly with tips are also twice as likely to be below the poverty line than workers who aren’t paid primarily in tips. With the President’s focus on combating income inequality becoming a central part of his agenda, raising the minimum wage for tipped workers could really help to increase the income of some of the country’s lowest paid workers.
This year Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour gradually over a number of years. The bill would have also helped tipped workers who do not received the full minimum wage from their employer. The minimum wage for tipped employees would have been raised to 70% of the new $10.10 minimum wage. This would mean that employers would have to pay their tipped employees $7.07 an hour in wages with tips making up the difference between the $7.07 tipped minimum wage and the new $10.10 federal minimum wage.
Unfortunately, Senate Republicans killed the bill which would have probably been killed by House Republicans even if it passed the Senate. State and local governments have taken the lead with the city of Seattle instituting a minimum wage of $15 an hour. Even states controlled by the Republicans have moved to increase the minimum wage. Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder joined the Republican controlled state legislature to sign into law an increase in Michigan’s minimum wage.
The Times editorial ends by noting that the real change should be the end of a lower minimum wage for tipped employees. At least seven states have abolished the the lower tipped employee minimum wage and restaurants haven’t disappeared from those states.
The vast majority of Americans support an increase in the minimum wage. Hopefully Republicans at the federal won’t be able to resist public opinion in this case and there will be an increase in the federal minimum wage soon. The increase in the federal minimum wage is necessary because there are states like Georgia that either don’t have a state minimum wage or the state minimum wage is less than the federal minimum wage.
If you are an employee on Georgia who is paid mostly in tips and you think you are being paid less than you are owed contact Atlanta employment lawyer Ben Kandy.