My employer pays us minimum wage for working a banquet of less than 50 people. Upon presenting the bill to the banquet host, it is conveyed to the host by the employer that the tip is not included in the bill and therefore a tip is left. On that bill there is a service charge that is, in addition to the tip, distributed equally to the banquet wait staff and bartender.However, when we work a banquet of 50 people or more, my employer pays us $16 an hour (which only comes out to about $24 to each worker if the banquet lasts 5 hours). When the bill is presented to the host the employer conveys to the host that the tip is included in the bill as the service charge. My employer does not distribute any of that service charge to us at the end of the banquet, but instead adds it to our payroll check as banquet hours.
I am confused as to how it may be legal to for my employer to pre determine our tip at a rate of $4 an hour and pocket the rest. The amount of service charges on these big banquets are a lot (some at $16,000) and we work twice as hard.
1 Answer from Attorneys
The facts you communicate are not completely clear to me. But the general problem you relate (employer collects "service charge" from banquet customers but does not properly pay that money over, in full, to the banquet workers) is a legal issue I have been dealing with in my law practice for a number of years and my office currently has a lawsuit against the Venetian casino in Las Vegas about that issue. That sort of action by an employer may well violate the legal right of the banquet workers to receive 100% of the collected service charge. I suggest you consult with an attorney who deal with wage payment issues for employees if you are interested in investigating this issue further.