Certain types of work have special wage rules connected to it. Here in Indiana, one of those types of work is tipped work.
Among the special rules that apply to tipped workers are special minimum wage rules. A worker is considered a tipped worker for the purposes of these rules if they regularly/customarily get over $30 in tips per month.
Unlike most workers, a tipped worker can be given a base wage that is below the minimum wage in the state. However, this does not mean employers of tipped workers have no limitations regarding what wages they can pay such workers.
For one, while a tipped worker’s base wage is allowed to be below the minimum wage, their combined base wage and tips are not. So, if the tips a tipped worker is receiving are not enough to get the worker above the minimum wage when added to their base wage, their employer has to pay them the amount of the shortcoming.
Also, there is a floor regarding how low the base wage of a tipped worker in the state can be. This floor is currently $2.13 an hour in Indiana.
Tipped workers deserve to have their special wage rights respected by their employer. Tipped workers who believe their employer may have paid them less than the law requires, such as through paying them too low of a base wage or not paying them the difference when tips plus base wage were under the minimum wage, should contact an attorney experienced in wage and hour law matters. Such lawyers can help such workers determine if a wage violation occurred and can assist workers who have had their wage rights violated with pursuing appropriate legal action.
Source: Indiana Department of Labor, “Wage & Hour FAQs,” Accessed Feb. 11, 2016