It’s a shocking fact that companies in New York can still pay less than the minimum wage – just $5.00 per hour – to restaurant servers, delivery workers, and nearly a quarter-million other workers in the food service industry who receive tips. Although employers are legally required to "top off" a tipped worker's pay when it doesn't meet the regular minimum wage, enforcement is so lax and disorganized that what's being called "wage theft" -- employers violating minimum wage, overtime, and other wage and hour laws --has reached epidemic levels.
High poverty, low wages, and unstable paychecks are a common way of life for New York’s tipped workers – roughly 70% of whom are women. As Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein wrote in the Buffalo News last month, "This is fundamentally a moral issue. Respecting the dignity of human beings requires that we respect the dignity of their work. For tipped workers, that means paying a fair and reliable wage."
Governor Cuomo has now called for a Wage Board to study the state’s sub-minimum wage for tipped workers – and with the stroke of a pen, the Cuomo administration can end this unfair and outdated policy by issuing a wage order requiring employers to directly pay tipped workers the full minimum wage, with tips in addition.