Answers to Questions That Waiters and Tipped Employees Need to Know

Have questions about your legal matter and are afraid to ask? If so, head on over to our FAQ section in which we tackle a variety of important topics that matter to you. Find answers to questions regarding car accidents, medical malpractice, unpaid overtime, and a variety of other legal subjects that may be affecting you. 
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  • Can the restaurant refuse to pay me for overtime hours that weren’t “pre-approved” by my manager?

    Employees of all kinds, including those who work in restaurants, nail salons, hotels, and other tipped positions, often wrangle with their employers’ difficult overtime policies. While the employer expects workers to get prior approval to work overtime hours, the reality of their work situation means that overtime hours may be impossible to predict—so some employees end up illegally working overtime for free. Although many tipped employees are told that overtime must be formally approved ahead of time with a manager or higher-up, these kinds of company policies don’t exempt the tipped employee from pay—and they don’t exempt employers from their responsibility to follow the law.

    Complicated Overtime Loopholes Don’t Exempt Employers From the Law

    Most tipped employees should be paid for all of the time they actually work, and that should include compensation for overtime if the employee works more than 40 hours in a week. If you work the hours, your employer is required by law to compensate you—even if you didn’t get “pre-approval” to work overtime.

    However, things can get complicated for tipped employees when the employer has a “pre-approval” policy in place. Although they should be compensated if they work, employees could be held responsible by their employers for violating some overtime policies, so some care is needed when considering your employee rights and options. If you have questions, the easiest way to get detailed, personalized answers about your situation is to reach out to an attorney who has experienced working with the victims of wage abuse.

    Are you ready to get started? Order your free copy of our book, 10 Biggest Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Wage & Overtime Claim, which was created by our employment law team to be a first step for employees who have questions about wage and overtime abuses—or reach out to us by phone or live chat for immediate assistance.


  • I'm a waitress and work for tips. Do I have to share my tips with the cooks and the dishwashers at the end of the night?

    No. "Back of the house" staff, or those people who work in the kitchen and prep areas, are not entitled to any of your tips, since they are paid an hourly rate. You are the one who works for tips and agrees to a lower hourly pay rate. It was also your service and interaction with the dining guest that earned you that tip. 

    When tips get shared, it is called "tip pooling," and employers have to meet certain conditions in order for tip pools to remain valid under the Fair Labor Standards Act. One of those conditions is that the tip pool cannot involve employees who do not customarily recieve tips, like cooks, food expeditors, or dish washers.

    Our Texas fair restaurant wage lawyers have compiled a brief list of people who are not entitled to share in your tips:
    • Cooks
    • Food preparation workers
    • Bussers
    • Dishwashers
    • Managers
    • Employers
    You are under no obligation to contribute to any type of tip pool, even if you are directly asked to do so by management. If you have been doing so, then you may be entitled to a claim. Order your free copy of the Ten Biggest Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Wage and Overtime Claim by calling 888.449.2068 today.

  • I spend part of my time at work performing duties that I do not earn tips for. Should I still be making the same wages as when I do earn tips?

    As a tipped employee in a restaurant, hotel, or other place of business, you know that tips can be a little unpredictable. Sometimes, the tips are great, and other times you can go hours without making a single dollar in tips. However, what happens when you receive a tip-earning salary at work, which is usually below minimum wage, when you are not performing tip-earning duties?

    Many tipped employees are used to filling in as needed during slow times, and it’s not unusual to help in the back, work the register, or pitch in to help coworkers. While it is not a problem when it happens once in a while, it may start to feel unfair if it is a regular occurrence. After all, the employees who usually perform this task make far more per hour than you do when tips aren’t figured in. While it can be complicated to determine if you’re being paid correctly for the job duties you perform, it is possible to get answers and potentially recover back pay if there is a problem.

    Overtime laws are very complicated, and sometimes even employers make mistakes. It’s easy to ask a tipped employee to step into other roles when workflow dictates the need, but employers don’t always realize they are also taking advantage of vulnerable employees and breaking the law when this becomes a usual practice. While it’s understood that employees may fill in during busy periods, the law makes it clear that they must be paid appropriately if these additional job duties become a part of their regular terms of employment.

    If you are confused by wage and tip laws, reach out to our team today for fast, personalized assistance with your questions. And, for more information about protecting your rights while you get answers, request your free copy of our book, 10 Biggest Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Wage & Overtime Claim.