If my combined tips and wages don’t exceed $7.25 per hour, is my employer legally required to make up the difference?

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If my combined tips and wages don’t exceed $7.25 per hour, is my employer legally required to make up the difference?

I work at a small restaurant/sports bar. Business can (and has) been very slow and bartenders are required to work as servers, bar backs, hostesses, bouncers etc. We are paid $2.13 an hour on our paychecks, however many days our tips (cash and credit card included) are not substantial amounts at all, and we have a running joke that we would make more money working at a fast food restaurant (at least it’s consistent). From my own personal research, I have found that in VA, employers are required to make up the difference if our tips and hourly wages don’t equal at least $7.25 an hour for our shift. Is this true? If so, what is the best way to go about seeking justice about this? Could there potentially be an opportunity to seek back wages? I’m dying to hear info on this and eager to know what I am legally entitled to.

Asked on December 13, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you have to earn, between base salary and tips, at least $7.25 per hour. If you do not, you could either file a complaint with the state department of labor or bring a legal action yourself. You are entitled to back wages for all periods during which you did not earn at least minimum wage, in an amount equal to what it would take to bring you up to minimum. You may wish to consult with an employment attorney to explore your options. Good luck.


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