TipJar_cropped14346183.jpgHospitality industry employers take note: If you claim a “tip credit” toward the minimum wage for any of your employees, you need to make sure that all tips are properly distributed to employees. A recent case from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals involving a Texas restaurant chain illustrates the hazards of making a mistake with the tip credit rules. Steele v. Leasing Enterprises, Ltd. (.pdf)

Here’s a summary of this cautionary tale:

Tip Credit Background

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are require to pay most employees at least $7.25 per hour. The FLSA allows tips received by employees to count for up to $5.12 of this total, meaning that an employer can pay tipped employees as little as $2.13 per hour so long as their tips are sufficient to make up the difference between their hourly wage and the federal minimum wage. But there are some restrictions. Employers can take advantage of this “tip credit” only if three conditions are met:
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In an interesting turn of events and what I’m sure will be gratifying for some employers, the Department of Labor has agreed to pay Gate Guard Services $1.5 million to settle claims involving the DOL’s overly aggressive and bad faith tactics in investigating whether Gate Guard’s gate attendants were improperly classified as independent contractors under