Tipped Worker Wage Laws - Georgia
The laws around tipped worker wages vary from state to state, although there are also federal laws that supersede state laws. As a result, the laws around tipped worker wages in Georgia can be quite complex. These laws cover a variety of issues, including minimum wages, employer tip credits, tip pooling, dual-duty jobs, and even mandatory service charges.
Some employers will get away with breaking these laws because their employees do not understand them. This is why it is vital to hire an established law firm. DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick, & Benjamin have tipped worker lawyers that can help!
Keep reading to learn more about tipped worker wage laws in Georgia.
Minimum Tipped Worker Wages in Georgia
The minimum wage in Georgia is $7.25 per hour, which is the same as the federal minimum wage. However, the laws for tipped workers are a bit different. According to federal law, states have the right to allow employers to take tip credits. Georgia is one of the states that allows employer tip credits.
Employer Tip Credits
Georgia’s Tip Credit Law
Georgia’s tip credit law allows employers to pay tipped employees a lower minimum wage with the expectation that tips will make up for the difference between the tipped minimum wage and the normal minimum wage. Georgia allows employers to take a credit of up to $5.12 toward the wages of tipped employees. This means that, in practice, the minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour.
However, tipped employees are legally guaranteed to make at least the federal minimum wage. This means that if they get less than $5.12 in tips per hour (averaged over one work week), their employer has to make up the difference.
This requirement leads to one of the most common violations of tipped worker wage law in Georgia. Some unscrupulous employers will assume that their employees do not know that the company has to make up the difference between what the employee actually earns (if it’s less than the federal minimum wage) and the federal minimum wage. If you catch your employer doing this in Georgia, DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick, & Benjamin can help.
Federal law allows states to make tip pooling legal. Georgia is one of the states in which this practice is legal. However, there are many regulations around this practice that must be followed for a valid tip pool to exist.
Federal Minimum Wage
Each employee must make at least the federal minimum wage after putting tips into the pool. Also, pool tips can only be distributed to regularly tipped employees. This means that it is illegal for employers to share tips with non-tipped employees like cooks or dishwashers.
It is also illegal for managers and supervisors to get a share of the tips from the pool. In many instances, managers and supervisors (including business owners) help themselves to a large portion of tips from the pool. Employees who should to receive proceeds from the pool may be unaware of the law or they may be unaware that this illegal activity is taking place.
If you find out that your employer is doing this, hire an experienced firm like DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick, & Benjamin to help with your case.
Many tipped employees have to work in a non-tipped position for part of their shift. For example, a pizza delivery driver may have to double as a cook when they are in the restaurant waiting for a delivery. Employers can only pay the employee the tipped worker wage during this period, with some restrictions.
The non-tipped portion of the job must be performed immediately before or after the tipped portion. Also, the non-tipped portion of the job must be directly related to the tipped portion of the shift. For example, a waitress processing invoices must be paid the non-tipped minimum wage for that task.
A source of recent regulatory conflict are specific percentage restrictions on other duties. This is an area of the law that is still in flux.
Tips vs. Mandatory Service Charges
Many restaurants apply mandatory service charges. Mandatory service charges are not tips. Employers do not have to share this money with employees. We have noticed a dramatic uptick in organizations using service charges to avoid the restrictions on tipped work. Still, certain technicalities and requirements apply.
An Experienced Law Firm Can Help You With Your Tipped Wages Case
If you believe that your employer is violating the laws around tipped worker wages, DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick, & Benjamin is here for you. Our attorneys have extensive experience in employment law. We have helped workers win many cases against companies with illegal employment practices. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your tipped worker wages case.