Don’t Let the Trump Administration Roll Back Protections for Restaurant Servers

Restaurant servers are already some of the most vulnerable workers in the country, but the Trump administration wants to roll back Obama-era protections to make their employment situation even more precarious.

Prior to Obama, restaurant workers who earned the federal minimum wage for tipped employees, currently $2.13 an hour, could be forced to share their tips with non-tipped restaurant employees like kitchen staff.

In 2011, the Obama administration extended protections for restaurant servers by banning the practice, known as tip-pooling, for all tipped employees.

The Trump administration wants to roll back the Obama-era rule and allow employers to once again collect tips from employees who earn over the standard minimum wage. Bizarrely, a Department of Labor press release announcing the potential change said the proposal would give workplaces the “freedom” to allow the “sharing” of tips.

Opponents of the change believe this will allow employers the opportunity to simply steal the tips and keep the money for themselves.

“By allowing employers to take control of their employees’ tips, this regulation would push a majority-women workforce … further into financial instability, poverty, and vulnerability to harassment and assault,” Saru Jayaraman, president of the union-backed Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, said in a statement.

We cannot simply trust restaurant owners not to take advantage of their employees, because they’ve proven time and again that they will. In 2015, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor collected over $38 million in back wages owed to almost 47,000 restaurant employees. Labor law violations in the restaurant industry are “rampant,” with employers frequently breaking laws their employees aren’t aware of or are too afraid to report.

“If companies have trouble retaining non-tipped workers because their pay is so low, the solution is for the companies to raise the wages of those workers,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, “not for the Labor Department to rig the rules so employers can essentially steal earnings from tipped workers to subsidize the businesses’ low-wage model.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most servers earn less than $20,000 per year. The solution to unequal pay is not to take money from one underpaid group and give it to another underpaid group. Instead, employers should be required to pay all their employees a livable wage and stop pitting vulnerable workers against each other.

Taking wages from servers to give to cooks doesn’t make pay fair for restaurant workers, it just takes the responsibility of reasonable wages off restaurant owners.

A Care2 petition with over 21,000 signatures is demanding the Department of Labor rewrite the regulations to protect restaurant servers from having their wages stolen by their employers. The Department of Labor has extended the public comment period after backlash. Add your name to help protect servers from further exploitation.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition and use this handy guide to get you started. You’ll find Care2′s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you. 

Thinkstock

55 comments

Virgene L
Virgene L3 months ago

The server with help from cooks and those who bus tables deserve the tip. They are the one interfacing with the customer, making the establishment "look good" and are the lowest paid. For shame for even thinking of this.

SEND
Brad H
Brad H3 months ago

thanks

SEND
Just Human
Just Human4 months ago

If you're able and if you get good service. Tip your server well. They work hard at a difficult job. Shame on you Trump!

SEND
Lisa M
Lisa M4 months ago

Noted.

SEND
Lisa M
Lisa M4 months ago

Noted.

SEND
Eric Lees
Eric Lees4 months ago

Why is this even any of the government's business? If companies treat their workers poorly or under pay them then they will leave. Competition drives up wages not government laws. Is it too late to bring back common sense to government?

If politicians really wanted to help workers they would work on lowering the costs of hiring someone while letting the workers take home more of their paycheck. Ideally they get to take home 100% of their paycheck.

Where is the push for real economic progress?

SEND
Winn A
Winn A4 months ago

:-(

SEND
Winn A
Winn A4 months ago

tRUMP doesn't give a rats *_$%!@#!#)&)* about restaurant workers.

SEND
Freya H
Freya H4 months ago

If waitrons are forced to turn over their tips, they will not be able to make expenses. I believe in tipping generously, and I want that money to go to the person who served me, or at least into the general pool for all tipped workers to share. As if the $2.13 wage isn't low enough, that wage hasn't been raised for many years. Meanwhile, fat-cat CEOs (my abject apologies to the world's feline population) can increase their already obscene salaries to as much as they want, whenever they want.

SEND
Adele E Zimmermann
Adele E Zimmermann4 months ago

Restaurant servers endure long shifts on their feet; carrying heavy trays; taking abuse from managers, cooks and customers; variable schedules that interfere with second jobs and family time; and the lowest pay of any workers in the country. Employers who are allowed to take servers' tips fit the definition of "robber baron". We all know that Donald Trump's agenda is to return us to that deplorable era in our history, but this is beyond the pale.

SEND