This is the next post in our series dealing with wage theft by Atlanta, Georgia employers. Our last article dealt with making a claim for unpaid overtime or other unpaid wages. It is important to understand that any claims must be brought against your employer within three years of the violation. Speaking to an employment law attorney immediately will help you ensure that you do not miss this time window and will also help you understand whether you have other possible claims against your employer. In this article we will discuss the implications of an employer taking one’s tips. If you have been a victim of tip theft then contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
Georgia law does not allow an employer to take an employee’s tips. Doing so would constitute wage theft and a worker could deal with the issue as they would any other claim for unpaid wages or stolen pay. This means the worker may either file a claim with the proper administrative agency or they may file a lawsuit directly. It is also possible for one to recover “liquidated damages” in addition to the stolen tips; liquidated damages can be equal to the amount which was taken. This means that if an employer stole $1,000 worth of tips then they may be required to pay the worker the $1,000 plus another $1,000 in liquidated damages. A victim may also be able to recover their attorney’s fees.
It is important to understand that there are two scenarios under which an employer may take a worker’s tips. This include situations involving a worker “tip-pool” and instances involving a “tip-credit.” Tip pools are arrangements in which workers share their tips equally with one another, with none of the tip money going to the employer. Tip credits allow an employer to offset a tip against one’s guarantee of a minimum wage. Federal law requires that workers be paid $7.25 per hour. If an employer chooses to pay a worker $5 per hour then they may do so as long as that worker’s tips make up the difference between the $5 wage and $7.25. If the worker’s tips do not fully make up the difference then the employer must pay the worker enough to ensure that they make $7.25 per hour.
It is far more common than people realize for employers to take a worker’s tips. If you are a food server, a bartender, some other form of hotel staff, or if you work in some other tipped position then you may find yourself in such a situation. By contacting an employment law attorney you help to ensure that your rights remain protected. Our Atlanta lawyers handle such matters. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. We also service areas including Macon, Savannah, Athens, Kennesaw, Marietta, Decatur, Dunwoody, Stone Mountain, Tucker, Alpharetta, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Norcross, Gainesville, as well as the counties of Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Richmond.