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Can Mass. restaurants legally make waiters pay for check walkouts?

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  • Can Mass. restaurants legally make waiters pay for check walkouts?

    The waiters where I work in Massachusetts are forced to pay for checks that guests walk out on.

    I suspect that it is illegal for an employer to force an employee to pay for checks that have been walked out on, but that it is legal for the employer to enforce disciplinary action on employees who have had multiple walkouts on checks (so as to deter theft on the part of the employee).

    Does anyone have a link to the Massachusetts state law that deals with this issue? If not, can anyone direct me to where I might be able to get a copy of this law in writing?

    Any information would be helpful. Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Its ok under FLSA, unless payment comes out of your tips or reduces your pay over the work week to below the hourly minimum wage.

    MA certainly follows the Federal law when it comes to the minimum wage floor concept ($2.63/hr. for restaurant employees). But I don't believe there have been any MA cases specificlly addressing your questions. Either way, I'd be very surprised if a court permitted the setoff for merely negligent activity performed in the course of your work.

    Good luck, Phil
    This post is by Philip Gordon, a Massachusetts employment attorney (

    This post is NOT legal advice. It is for general/educational information purposes only. You should not rely on this post if you are making decisions, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post may be considered "advertising" under the MA professional rules for attorneys.