Florida categorizes some occupations as tipped wage jobs, and this classification makes them exempt from the usual minimum wage standards. You might wonder how that makes sense, especially with how discussions of raising the minimum wage have taken the stage in recent years.
It is important to understand how this particular classification works, how the system expects it to function fairly and how employers may exploit their employees’ hard-earned money.
Tipped wages in the US and Florida
In jobs where it is customary to tip for good service, employees stand to make more than minimum wage. There are federal and state statutes to allow business owners to pay them less than the usual minimum—assuming that those expected tips cover the difference. According to the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, the Federal and Florida minimums for tipped wages are $2.13/hour and $6.98/hour, respectively.
This means that, with Florida’s usual minimum wage of $10/hour, labor laws expect employers to make sure employees get $3.02/hour in tips.
Tipped wages and exploitation
If your employer has you on a tipped wage, there are many avenues where exploitation may occur. This includes withholding tips to pay you less than the required minimum. Another angle is where your employer has you doing non-tipped work at a tipped minimum wage.
The tipped wage industry has some of the most complex labor laws and it is easy for workers to fall through the cracks. If you believe your employer has committed wage theft in any way, there are protections and resources available to you when reporting it.