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The Hospitality Industry and Wage and Hour Laws Part 1

The hospitality industry experiences the most wage and hour violations of any industry. Every year, the Department of Labor (DOL) receives thousands of claims and attempts to recover millions of dollars in unpaid wages. In this two-part article, Tampa wage and hour attorneys will discuss some of the common infractions that occur in the restaurant industry. Employers need to be mindful of these rules and regulations to ensure that they are not violating these laws, whereas workers need to educate themselves on these laws to make certain they are being paid accurately for their hard work.

Common Wage and Hour Violations

Although there are many types of infractions that occur in the hospitality industry, here are some of the most common ways that employers fail to properly compensate their workers:

Working Off the Clock: Restaurants require their staff to perform a wide range of tasks that may be considered off the clock. This includes prep work before the store opens, closing up shop, cleaning before the worker can call it a night, and more. Many employers will claim that the tasks before and after an official shift time begins and ends is a gratis part of the worker’s tasks. However, this time setting up or cleaning is actually compensable time that the employer should be paying the worker for.

Overtime Pay: The vast majority of restaurant workers are non-exempt from overtime. This means that when they work over 40 hours in a workweek, they should be compensated for each additional hour at one and one-half times their standard hourly rate. Many workers like servers, hosts, cooks, and dishwashers are provided a flat day rate, and their weekly hours aren’t closely recorded by their employer. Both workers and their employer should be monitoring the number of hours they work in a week.     

Paying Below Minimum Wage: As a result of not recording hours, many salaried restaurant workers in Florida could end up earning less than what they would make if they were working for minimum wage. In some cases, an employer may wrongfully pay the worker the federal minimum wage amount of $7.25 instead of the prevailing wage total in Florida of $8.46. Another example is tipped employees earning $5.44 per hour and not making the difference to meet minimum wage requirements for their tipped compensation.

Misclassification: Employers can enjoy many tax saving and wage and hour benefits by failing to classify their workers as employees. Many employers illegally classify their workers as independent contractors when, in reality, these are full-time employees that are required to attend work at an exact time, perform tasks under direct supervision of their employer, and wear a uniform provided by their employer. For worker misclassification cases, consult a Tampa wage and hour attorney.

To learn more about how wage and hour laws impact the hospitality industry, please read part two.

If you would like to speak with our Tampa wage and hour attorneys , please contact us today.

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.