Restaurants must pay waiters and bartenders minimum wage when they are engaged in tasks such as cleaning toilets that are unrelated to their main jobs and do not offer tips, a divided U.S. appeals court ruled this week.
At issue in the decision by an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was a federal law that allows an employer to pay workers who receive tips as little as $2.13 an hour as long as their tips earn them minimum wage
Employers cannot use that tip credit when the workers are engaged in unrelated tasks that don’t pay tips, the panel ruled in a 9-2 decision. Employers also can’t use the tip credit for tasks related to bartending or serving such as preparing coffee if employees spend a substantial part of the work week on them.