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Waitstaff: sidework and tipout laws

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  • Waitstaff: sidework and tipout laws


    I'm writing from Texas and am working as a waitress here at $2.13 an hour. I have three questions regarding labor laws. If anyone can help me out that would be great!

    1. At my restaurant, our "tip-out" (to runners, kitchen, and bar) is automatically deducted by the computer at 3.5% of sales, even if the kitchen messes everything up or we get stiffed on a big tab. We have no way to adjust it. Is that legal?

    2. Is there a legal maximum to the amount of time waitstaff can be required to stay after their shift doing "sidework"? After we close all our tables down and are not eligible for receiving any more tables (ie done making any tips), we have to stay an additional 1.5 to 2 hours every day. Some of our tasks are normal and reasonable (rolling silverware, cleaning tables, cleaning bathrooms, etc.). However, a bulk of this time is spent running food for other waiters. The management will cut all the "runners" (paid 6.50 hourly) and have the waitstaff run food through the dinner rush. I feel that because we're paid nearly nothing, the restaurant overuses us, keeping us longer than is reasonable, having us do random cleaning tasks. Is this legal (keeping in mind we also arrive an hour before getting tables in order to set-up)?

    2. The restaurant is fairly inconsisent from day to day so for some shifts we show up for 1 to 2 hours and are cut without taking any tables because of overstaffing issues. We do work (setting up the restaurant, rolling silverware) but have no opportunity to make money. Does the restaurant have to pay us minimum wage on the day or just on the "pay period" if we don't make it in tips?

    On the whole, we do end up making minimum wage on the week, but get cut completely out of our shifts so much we have to show up 6-7 days a week just to get 35 hours. Also, even on days we get tips our hourly rate is diluted by all the extra work that is required of us and the mandatory tip-out.

    Sorry for all the questions. ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED. Or if anyone knows a resource in Texas I can turn to to get these questions answered



  • #2
    Hi, Sydney,

    The Texas Minimum Wage Act requires that all employees be paid at least minimum wage, currently $5.15/hour, with some exceptions based on age and/or physical or mental deficiency. Tipped employees must be paid at least $2.13/hr. and must receive compensation with tips and wages combined of at least minimum wage. This is computed for the work week, and does not mean that you must be compensated additionally for your "sidework".

    Tipped employees as defined by the Texas Labor Code (Sec. 62.050) are those employees who receive more than $20.00 a month in tips. Granted, that's not much, but it's an old law.

    The Texas Payday Law does not address the issue of job duties. I am unaware of any labor laws which specifically address the employment and/or job duties* of food servers in Texas. Job duties are conditions agreed upon by the employer and employee, usually at the time of hiring. However, an employer can change an individual's job duties, as long as notification is given to the employee prior to the changes taking effect.

    There isn't much to go on here. Sadly, some tipped employees do very well (my nephew's wife makes a fortune at a very high end restaurant in Ft. Worth, of all places), and some really struggle. The area of employment is not closely regulated, and specifics vary a great deal.

    You can call the Texas Workforce Commission (800-832-9243, toll free in Texas) with specific questions about the content of the law. The Texas Payday Law and the Texas Minimum Wage Act are linked at:


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