Berman Law Firm, P.A. Employment & Labor Law

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What does tip theft look like?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2023 | Firm News

If you work in a field with tipping, you know how vital tips are to your livelihood. This is especially true for those who work in restaurants, where the hourly wage starts at an abysmal rate. How can anyone make it on minimum restaurant wages with inflation still hitting us?

Unfortunately, some Florida employees must fight their employers too as they steal their tips. Some examples of employers taking tips may be obvious, like taking cash tips from a jar and putting them in their own pockets, but it can happen in more subtle ways as well.

Is it legal?

The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, provides federal legal rules for employers and managers of tipped employees. Employers may not take tips intended for the employee.

Some examples of prohibited behavior include a manager using your tips to cover the cost of a broken wine glass from a customer’s table in your section, or a manager withholding your tips as punishment for late arrival.

Tip theft is wage theft

A manager pocketing your tips is one type of wage theft, but employers can use other malicious actions to violate labor laws.

Unpaid overtime is often used in restaurants, like making you clean the tables or bar, or stay until closing after your shift is over.

Not paying minimum wage or denying you a lunch break if you are working a minimum number of hours are other illegal actions employers use to take money from your pocket.

What are my options?

You have reporting options both at the local and federal levels, if any employer is taking your tips or wages. You can report wage theft federally to the U.S. Department of Labor or more locally to Pinellas County.