If my combined tips and wages don’t exceed $7.25 per hour, is my employer legally required to make up the difference?

UPDATED: Dec 13, 2011

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If my combined tips and wages don’t exceed $7.25 per hour, is my employer legally required to make up the difference?

I work at a small restaurant/sports bar. Business can (and has) been very slow and bartenders are required to work as servers, bar backs, hostesses, bouncers etc. We are paid $2.13 an hour on our paychecks, however many days our tips (cash and credit card included) are not substantial amounts at all, and we have a running joke that we would make more money working at a fast food restaurant (at least it’s consistent). From my own personal research, I have found that in VA, employers are required to make up the difference if our tips and hourly wages don’t equal at least $7.25 an hour for our shift. Is this true? If so, what is the best way to go about seeking justice about this? Could there potentially be an opportunity to seek back wages? I’m dying to hear info on this and eager to know what I am legally entitled to.

Asked on December 13, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you have to earn, between base salary and tips, at least $7.25 per hour. If you do not, you could either file a complaint with the state department of labor or bring a legal action yourself. You are entitled to back wages for all periods during which you did not earn at least minimum wage, in an amount equal to what it would take to bring you up to minimum. You may wish to consult with an employment attorney to explore your options. Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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