May 20 was National Waitstaff Day and to mark the occasion, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announced a campaign targeting the food service industry. The initiative focuses on education and training for food service employers and enforcement of wage and hour violations.
In its announcement, the Department of Labor shared that in fiscal year 2021, 85% of the investigations it conducted in the food service industry resulted in wage and hour violations, which provided $34.7 million in back wages for more than 29,000 workers and $3.2 million in penalties assessed against employers.
The most common infractions the Department of Labor found were:
- Minimum wage violations occurring when tipped employees are paid in tips only;
- Minimum wage violations occurring when employees are subject to improper tip pools or have their tips taken by managers/owners;
- Minimum wage violations occurring because of improper wage deductions due to dine-and-dash-patrons, broken dishes, cash register shortages, uniforms, etc.
- Overtime violations for workers who are improperly classified as exempt from the overtime rules and should be receiving overtime pay; and
- Child labor violations for minors that work outside the allowable hours, more than the allowed work time, or as delivery drivers.
With the renewed interest of the Department of Labor on the food service industry, employers in this industry should be sure that they are compliant with the tip credit, tip pool, minimum wage and overtime, and child labor rules and regulations.