Restaurant Waitstaff Stuck at $2.13 Minimum Wage for 22 Years

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The federal minimum wage in 1991 was $4.25 for most workers. It rose to $4.75 in 1996, $5.15 in 1997, $5.85 in 2007, $6.55 in 2008, and $7.25 in 2009.

The federal minimum wage for waitstaff, bellhops, manicurists and others who rely on tips was $2.13 in 1991. It’s still $2.13 today, although new legislation might finally raise it, Bloomberg says.

Technically, those people should still make no less than $7.25 per hour. If their tips aren’t enough to fill in the gap, their employer is required by law to pay the difference. But not all employers do. Bloomberg cites a waitress whose didn’t — and that could put under-appreciated staff in the position of fighting for their due.

Some states have a minimum wage higher than the federal rate. In states that have a lower or no minimum wage, the federal minimum applies, the Department of Labor says. But only seven states require the same minimum for both tipped and non-tipped workers, according to Bloomberg.

There are an estimated 2.3 million servers in the U.S., and a wage increase could help many. It could also hurt some, if opponents of an increase are to be believed. Some restaurant owners claim their margins are so thin they would have to fire staff and cut hours, or raise prices.

Proposed legislation would raise the full non-tipped minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2015 and require that tipped staffers are paid no less than 70 percent of that. That works out to at least $7.07 coming directly from employers. But both the National Restaurant Association and Republican congressional leaders have voiced opposition to raising the minimum wage.

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  • E_Eriksen

    “…The federal minimum wage for waitstaff, bellhops, manicurists and others who rely on tips was $2.13 in 1991. It’s still $2.13 today, although new legislation might finally raise it…”

    waaaaahhhhhhh… apparently the writer/whiner didn’t bother to actually READ THE LAW pertaining to this wage…about 3 paragraphs long… freely available at DOL (dot) gov…

    From the Gov website…

    The employer must provide the following information to a tipped employee before the employer may use the tip credit:

    1) the amount of cash wage the employer is paying a tipped employee, which must be at least $2.13 per hour;

    2) the additional amount claimed by the employer as a tip credit, which cannot exceed $5.12 (the difference between the minimum required cash wage of $2.13 and the current minimum wage of $7.25);

    3) that the tip credit claimed by the employer cannot exceed the amount of tips actually received by the tipped employee;

    4) that all tips received by the tipped employee are to be retained by the employee except for a valid tip pooling arrangement limited to employees who customarily and regularly receive tips; and

    5) that the tip credit will not apply to any tipped employee unless the employee has been informed of these tip credit provisions.

    The employer may provide oral or written notice to its tipped employees informing them of items 1-5 above. An employer who fails to provide the required information cannot use the tip credit provisions and therefore must pay the tipped employee at least $7.25 per hour in wages and allow the tipped employee to keep all tips received.

    Employers electing to use the tip credit provision must be able to show that tipped employees receive at least the minimum wage when direct (or cash) wages and the tip credit amount are combined. If an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s direct (or cash) wages of at least $2.13 per hour do not equal the minimum hourly wage of $7.25 per hour, the employer must make up the difference.

    • http://www.moneytalksnews.com/ Stacy Johnson

      I have no idea why you called the author of this post a whiner. Or why you bothered cutting and pasting the regulations behind what the writer had already said in this article: “Technically, those people should still make no less than $7.25 per hour. If their tips aren’t enough to fill in the gap, their employer is required by law to pay the difference.”
      Other than being rude, what is your point?

  • I.Popoff

    It’s even worse for delivery drivers when they get stiffed. They put a lot of miles on their vehicles, pay exorbitant auto insurance rates and burn a lot of pricey gasoline. I think some of them fail to recognize that they are not making as much money as they think they are.