As a Seattle employment lawyer, I am aware that some companies try to avoid paying wages that their workers have earned, or find ways to pay workers less than minimum wage. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued a press release yesterday about a lawsuit that it has filed against a restaurant in Austin, TX for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The suit involves three major complaints: taking deductions from servers’ tips so that they make less than minimum wage, paying cooks straight time for hours over forty in a week, and failing to maintain accurate records of employees’ hours. In Texas, like most states, there is a separate minimum wage for employees who earn tips, provided that the combined total of their tips and their wages add up to at least the regular minimum wage. The DOL is alleging that in this case, because of deductions that the restaurant took from the servers’ tips, they did not make minimum wage. Additionally, cooks who worked over 40 hours per week were not being paid time-and-a-half for the overtime hours as required under the FLSA.

The FLSA is designed to protect the rights of workers, to ensure that they receive a fair wage and decent working conditions. Here in Washington State, we have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage, and under state law, employees who make tips are also required to be paid the regular state minimum wage. Nevertheless, it is surprisingly common for employers to try to get around the requirements of wage and hour laws in order to try to save money.

If you believe that your employer has paid you less than the money that you are owed, either by shorting the number of hours worked, or by paying less than minimum wage, speak with a Seattle employment lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights. Especially in a tough economy, it can be very intimidating to make a complaint against your employer, but no worker should have to feel intimidated into accepting an unfair employment situation. At Premier Law Group, we have helped numerous people in Seattle and the surrounding communities settle disputes with employers. For more information and a FREE CONSULTATION, contact me at (206)285-1743.

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