An incident involving a restaurant server on TikTok sparked a debate after the server claimed that she was made to pay a portion of a customer’s bill after their credit card was declined and they left the establishment.
In a TikTok video, user Audrey (@meow.ak47) explains the situation to over 633,000 viewers.
“A big [fuck] you to the people who walked $300 worth of food and alcohol and the card declined and I had to pay part of their bill since I was your server,” she writes in the text overlay of the video. “Not only did I lose a $55 tip I lost $70 of my own money because of y’all.”
“Treat your servers better, and don’t order shit you can’t afford.”
Many users in the comments section argued that it is illegal for a server to be made to pay for a customer’s bill, even just a portion of it.
According to Slate, the legal reality of the issue is somewhat complex.
“On a federal level, this type of wage deduction isn’t roundly prohibited by the Fair Labor Standards Act, the law that establishes minimum-wage and other employment standards,” writes author Luke O’Neil. “The FLSA generally prevents employers from taking servers’ tips, and it prohibits wage deductions for walkouts when an employer claims the maximum tip credit or when such deductions bring a worker’s net earnings below minimum wage.”
To sum up, if the employer is taking advantage of the tip credit and paying less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, deductions are typically considered illegal on a federal level only if it reduces the server’s hourly wages to below $7.25.
O’Neil states that several states have laws prohibiting employers from this practice, including Massachusetts, New York, and California.
Audrey later explained her situation in a follow-up video.
Replying to @selfdefenestration soooo lets talk about it – thank u to those wjo have been nice and helpful I really appreciate it 🥰
In the video, Audrey expresses her unfamiliarity with the labor laws of the state she recently moved to. Despite this recent incident, she expresses satisfaction with her job, colleagues, and compensation, and has no intention of leaving her job.
“I cannot afford to just quit my job and not have another one lined up,” she explains. “I literally cannot afford to do that right now.” Audrey also mentioned her intent to discuss the situation with her manager.
Several commenters on the video emphasized the importance of workers being aware of their rights in the workplace, regardless of the legal implications of the situation.