Restaurant Workers in Florida Could Make $2.13 an Hour

Florida, a state dependent on tourists and tourist-related activities and businesses, is considering a dramatic reduction in hourly pay rates for tipped restaurant workers. These employees, which include servers, busers and bartenders, currently make $4.65 an hour. Their wages could be slashed by more than half, bringing the hourly rate down to $2.13, which is the lowest legal amount in the United States.

Most states pay their restaurant workers significantly more than the $2.13 minimum wage in order to attract good employees. As a server at an Olive Garden in Illinois, I make $4.95 an hour– and it still doesn’t feel like very much. After the taxes from my reported tips are taken out of my paycheck, I end up making about $35 a week in hourly wages. The rest comes from tips– which are hit or miss.

Several reasons are cited for Florida’s possible pay cut, including “rising pay and health care costs” (Huffington Post). Restaurant industry officials, including a spokesperson from OSI Restaurant Partners, which owns Outback Steakhouse, says that the restaurant industry is in danger of collapse because of the resource drain.

At a time when more and more people go out to eat frequently and new restaurants open up all the time (and appear to make money), the argument that the restaurant industry is struggling seems weak.

It is also interesting that Florida officials find it more appropriate to slash the wages of lower-tier workers instead of salaried management or other higher-paid employees.

And, as we all know, tips are not a very reliable way to make a living. While the recommended percentage for tipping a server in a sit-down restaurant is 15%, I get 10-12% tips daily because many people are unaware of the proper etiquette. Restaurant-goers in Florida are unlikely to begin tipping more just because hourly wages go down– which means that the servers, busers, and bartenders working for pennies every day are the ones who will lose out.

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Photo credit: zoetnet


Ashlyine B.
Ashlyine B.4 years ago

The stuff in the blogs blows out my mind.
outback steakhouse coupon

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W5 years ago

Oh, I have another good one. I worked for Ruby Tuesday and once, accidentally punched into the computer that I'd made $300 instead of the $30 I did make.

I immediately contacted my manager who simply told me "Too Bad. Next time you'll be more careful."
So I ended up having to pay taxes that week on $300 more than I made. Isn't that nice?

I'll never eat in one of them again; I recall someone spilling lettuce all over the kitchen floor on it's way to the salad bar and the manager telling someone to just give it a quick rinse in the sink and then get it out there. Wish that was the grossest story from behind the scenes at a chain restaurant, but it isn't. But Ruby's are one of the worst.

Nellie P.
Nellie P5 years ago

I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this or not, but in most places tipped employees are not taxed on the money they actually make. They are taxed on a percentage of their total sales for that day.
So if that percentage is $95, but you only made $75 that day, you will still be taxed as if you made $95. A lot of people say, "well it works the other way too. You may make more than that $95 and still only be taxed on the $95. Therefore it evens out in the end". Unfortunately, most of the time it does not even out, and the employee ends up getting taxed on money they never made. All it takes is a few tables, or one large/expensive table, and you're paying for more than you made that day.
Keep in mind, I'm not talking about customers that didn't tip because the server gave them bad service. Bad service is inexcusable. There are a lot of people that are either not familiar with tipping etiquette, or may come from somewhere that doesn't have a tipping custom.
Minimum wage should be just that; a minimum wage paid to all workers of adult age period.

David L.
David L5 years ago

What is it about American "states rights" that allows your states to overlook Federal "minimum wage" laws, and put in place these exemptions for places like restaurants to offer "less than minimum wage" jobs ???

IN most of those western countries where the federal government does set "a minimum wage", it means just that ~ a MINIMUM wage for an adult worker..

(The current minimum wage here in Australia is roughly 20% higher than that in the USA; and we don't see any of these more extreme and whacky exemptions that seem to apply in the restaurant and catering, tourism and hospitality sectors, that you lot "enjoy" over there..).

$2.13 would be less than equivalent workers are getting paid in India these days !!!

JUST goes to show that slavery is still alive and well, and thriving in some corners of the USA..
ANY business that can't afford to pay its workers a halfway decent wage is simply not viable, and deserves to "go to the wall"...

Pandering to the hopeless and incompetent among the restaurant owners is simply extending the misery for an unsustainable business..

Diana C.
Diana C.5 years ago

Wait staff in New Mexico have been paid the $2.13 hourly wage for years (and years...). When I was working as a waitress, I would often forget to pick up my paycheck--it was that small! I feel your pain and think it's insane that anyone should be paid that little. Like Florida, much of our business was through the tourism industry as well and tips were often hit or miss. If you haven't worked in the food and beverage industry, you often don't understand this part of the job. I've heard people say they don't feel it necessary to tip since the wait staff makes minimum wage. Remember everyone--TIP YOUR WAITER!!!

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe5 years ago

Hey Susan H. I signed all of the petitions you listed and on the , it said, "Update: SB 2106 dies in Senate." I call that a 'Victory."

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G5 years ago

Disgraceful exploitation, how can people live of that???

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W5 years ago

Oh, I almost forgot.

Since most restaurants serve alcohol, most states require that waitstaff gain pricey licenses form the state before they are allowed to be hired.

So, depending on where you dine, you may be being served by a Licensed Professional Server whose pay can range as low as $2.13/hr. What a freakin' aspiration!

susan h.
susan holcombe5 years ago

please sign the petitions!!

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush5 years ago


Florida won't learn, until the good servers leave the state.

The 4% who voted NO, and the 1% who voted LEANING NO, obviously, have never worked in this service industry.