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Employers are allowed to pay their tipped workers a lower minimum wage than workers who do not earn tips, but paying them tips without any wages is not legal under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. Even when tipped employees are paid the lower minimum wage, the tips they earn, plus their wages, must add up to at least the standard minimum wage to which all other workers are entitled. If their earnings fall below the standard minimum wage, the employer is required to make up the difference.

According to a wage and hour lawsuit filed against Café Misono Inc. by the Department of Labor (DOL), the restaurant allegedly refused to pay at least one waiter anything at all, requiring that employee to live off their tips alone. Continue reading