Senator Murray: “Tipped workers in the restaurant industry and beyond are … on front-lines of the COVID pandemic, risking exposure to the virus and facing increased levels of harassment and a decline in tips.”
Senator Murray: “These workers desperately need relief and protection, but instead the Trump Administration has finalized a rule that will allow employers to line their pockets by essentially stealing workers’ tips.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule to allow restaurants and other employers to essentially steal tipped workers’ wages. The rule contradicts the 2018 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that prohibited employers from keeping employees’ tips, with DOL now allowing employers to reduce non-tipped workers’ wages in exchange for tips—essentially keeping the tips for the employers themselves. Additionally, it overturns the long-standing “80-20” rule, which ensured employers could only pay workers the tipped subminimum wage—or $2.13 an hour—if they performed tip-making work for at least 80% of their hours. The rule rolls back these protections to allow employers to pay workers less and essentially steal their tips—a devastating blow for tipped workers, who have experienced a decline in tips and an increase in hostility and harassment during the pandemic.
“Tipped workers in the restaurant industry—the majority of whom are women of color—and beyond have long made below the minimum wage and had to rely on hard-earned tips to make ends meet and pay their bills. But now they are also on the front-lines of the COVID pandemic, risking exposure to the virus, facing increased levels of harassment, and a decline in tips. These workers desperately need relief and protection—but instead, the Trump Administration is telling their bosses they can line their pockets by paying workers less and essentially stealing their tips.
“Despite the Trump Administration dealing yet another blow to workers on its way out the door, I’ll keep fighting to ensure tips stay in workers’ hands where they belong and to eliminate the tipped subminimum wage so tipped workers aren’t shortchanged. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration to protect workers’ rights and build back a fairer and more equal economy.”
Senator Murray is a champion for tipped workers and has long pushed to end the tipped subminimum wage, as part of her Raise the Wage Act. During the Trump Administration, she has fought against efforts to allow corporations to steal workers’ tips. In December 2019, Senator Murray urged DOL to rescind the proposed rule that led to this final rule, stressing that it clearly violated the congressional intent of the 2018 amendments made to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as part of a bipartisan agreement made between Senator Murray and then-Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. The agreement was made after Senator Murray pushed back against DOL’s 2017 rule allowing corporations to steal workers’ tips and spoke out against DOL’s attempts to cover up its own data showing the 2017 proposed rule would have allowed employers to steal potentially billions of dollars in tips from their workers.