Federal and state minimum wage laws establish what is legally considered as adequate pay for workers. In general, minimum wage is paid to employees who work in roles such as those in the retail and service industries.
Despite the existence of minimum wage laws, there are some exceptions that allow employers to pay their workers less than the minimum wage. One of the most prominent examples of this is servers and other people who work for tips. These workers can legally be paid less than minimum wage, under certain circumstances.
Minimum Wage Laws in Tennessee
The minimum wage in Tennessee is currently set at the same rate as the federal minimum wage, $7.25 per hour. This is the rate that most employees in the state legally should be paid, unless they also earn tips. In these cases, an employee’s actual wages (excluding tips) can be less than $7.25 per hour.
The Terms for Paying Tipped Employees Less Than Minimum Wage
According to federal minimum wage laws, workers who earn tips can be paid as little as $2.13 in their actual wages. However, wages that are this low are only permitted if a workers’ tips plus their wages are equivalent to the minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour (or another rate in states that have different minimum wage laws). Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor states that an employee must “retain all tips and... customarily and regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips” in order to legally be paid $2.13 per hour or a different reduced minimum wage rate. An employer must pay a worker the difference between their earned wages and the acceptable minimum wage rate if their tips do not equate to the correct rate.
The Donati Law, PLLC legal team can represent you in cases of wage and hour violations. Contact us if you believe that you have been unfairly compensated for your work and have a claim. We can assist you if you are a tipped employee who is being paid less than minimum wage, is not making up the difference in tips, and has not been compensated for the additional pay by your employer.
To schedule a free consultation with our attorneys, complete our contact form or call (901) 209-5500.