Hospitality Law

Hospitality Law


Are you getting paid what you are legally owed? If you are a server or a bartender, you have rights under hospitality law to get paid a fair wage. It is not uncommon for employers in the hospitality industry to try to increase their profits by not paying employees enough money. A hospitality attorney fights for the rights of servers and bartenders — holding employers accountable for a fair wage under hospitality law.

What are the Hospitality Laws?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was enacted in 1938 to help workers just like you get paid what you are rightfully owed. The United States Department of Labor oversees the compliance of the FLSA. This federal law established guidelines for employers, including minimum wage and overtime eligibility requirements and parameters. Overtime pay, as a standard, is one and a half times the regular rate of pay.

The Tip Credit

In the FLSA, Section 3(m), hospitality law allows for an employer to take what is called a “tip credit.” What that means is that an employer has the right to use a credit that makes up for the difference in what they are paying you to meet the federal standards for minimum wage.

Florida law allows lets employers to take a $3.02/hour tip credit. This means that employers can pay servers and bartenders at a base rate down to $5.23/hour.

If your employer is using a tip credit, there are certain things that all employees under that system should be aware of to honor your employee rights to a fair and lawful wage.  These include:

  • The amount of employer’s tip credit is not allowed to be more than the actual tips received
  • The employer cannot make you “tip out” non-tipped staff like managers, cooks, cleaning crew
  • Employees are legally owed minimum wage where sidework is greater than 20% of your shift
  • Employers have to explain what the tip credit system is to all affected employees

Laws in the hospitality industry exist to protect tipped employees across Florida and the entire United States.

Why is Hospitality Law Important?

Hospitality law is critical to servers and bartenders because employers try different tactics to make money. That may include skimping on your full wages. Some employers will try various strategies to confuse employees and increase their daily profits. Hospitality law exists to hold employers accountable for their actions and ensure a fair wage for employees.  Just like in other areas of employment law, employees of restaurants and bars deserve to receive what is rightfully theirs.

FAQs About Hospitality Law You Should Know

What could I receive if I win a case?

If you win a case, you can get the unpaid wages you are legally due. Also, there can be penalties applied to employers for breaking the law where you may receive, in total, two times the amount you are owed. The statute of limitations allows you to go back to jobs you have had within the last five years. This can add up to a significant amount of recovered funds for the employee.

Can my manager take my tips?

This, unfortunately, does happen sometimes. But in almost all circumstances — your manager is not allowed to take your tips. There are a few exceptions to this in hospitality law, including when there is a gratuity automatically added for a large party. The laws are complex, so it’s important to talk to a hospitality attorney about your specific circumstances.

What does “side work” include?

These are tasks related to your job that are not directly associated with activities that produce tips. This can include rolling silverware, brewing coffee or tea, cleaning up, and similar activities. Know that your employer can’t make you clock out when performing side work, cleaning, closing, or during slow time periods.

Should I receive minimum wage during opening and closing duties?

Yes. Hospitality law mandates that you are paid at least minimum wage during opening and closing whether or not your total side work exceeds 20% of your shift.

What is an illegal tip pool?

An illegal tip pool is when your manager/employer makes you tip out people who are not working in a typical tipped position. That includes management, the company itself, and even kitchen staff. Some cases even include hostesses.

Contact a Hospitality Attorney Today

A hospitality attorney understands the complexity of labor laws, including the FLSA, and acts as your advocate against employers who do not follow the law. Servers and bartenders have rights just like other employees and deserve to receive a fair wage for their work.

Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. helps servers and bartenders to get the wages they deserve under federal and state law. We work aggressively on each case to hold employers accountable for illegal behavior — and in the best interest of you and your family.

Contact us today to set up a free, confidential consultation. We have locations in Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Sarasota, West Palm Beach, St. Petersburg, and Jacksonville for your convenience.

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