Whether you want to call it a walkout or a dine and dash, when restaurant patrons bolt on their check, the person typically responsible for payment is the hardworking server. From serving the food to handling all payment responsibilities to cleaning and resetting tables, it seems unfair to also expect servers to play the role of security and apprehend non-paying customers in a fleeting moment of criminal activity. However, employers often hold the server accountable for walkouts, which is often a violation of federal wage and hour laws. In this brief article, a Tampa wage and hour attorney will discuss the legalities of restaurant walkouts.
Federal Stance on Walkouts
Whether it’s a harmless prank or a person doesn’t have money to pay their bill, the end result is an unpaid bill. It may be surprising for servers to learn that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) offers little protection to servers that fall victim to the dine and dash scenario. In fact, the federal ruling is that walkout deductions are allowed by employers as long as the employee’s wages do not go below the minimum hourly wage. The same rule applies for cash register shortages and breakage incidents (when a server drops plates or glasses).
How Employers Violate the Law
Although federal wage and hour laws show little sympathy for the unfortunate server during a walkout, many employers deliberately or unintentionally break the law by requiring their servers to pay the full deduction which results in their hourly pay falling below Florida’s required minimum wage (currently $8.25 per hour in 2018). For example, if a server made $150 total in an eight hour shift, but was required to pay back $100 for a walkout tab, the $50 remaining would only be $6.25 per hour meaning that they were paid $16 less than the minimum legal requirement for the time they worked.
Aside from walkouts, there are many other ways that employers violate federal wage and hour laws and fail to appropriately compensate their servers including:
- The server does not receive enough compensation in tips to make up the difference between the minimum wage and their tipped hourly rate.
- The server is not offered hourly compensation at all due to their total compensation in tips.
- The server is forced to participate in a tip pool with employees that do not classify as “tipped employees.”
If you experienced a significant financial loss because your employer failed to compensate you for any of the above mentioned reasons, our law firm can be of assistance.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.