NYC Restaurant Worker Attorney

New York City Restaurant Employee Lawyers

Restaurant workers are some of the hardest workers and, sadly, the most common victims of being unlawfully paid. The restaurant worker attorney at Lipsky Lowe have significant experience representing restaurant workers and recovering for them their hard, earned wages. The following is a summary of how a restaurant employees should be paid.

What is the minimum wage for restaurant workers?

Restaurants are permitted to use a “tip credit”, so that tips earned count towards the minimum wage that they must pay their tipped employees. The “tip credit” allows employers to pay their wait staff less than the minimum wage provided certain conditions are met: (1) the restaurant must inform the employees they are claiming the tip credit; (2) the employees must retain all their tips; and (3) the sum of the hourly rate and the tips must equal or exceed the applicable minimum wage rate.

Here is a summary of the 2018 minimum wages and tip credits. The minimum case wash is minimum amount an employer can pay a restaurant worker.


General Minimum WageMinimum WageTip Credit per hour

Minimum Cash Wage

New York City
(11 or more employees)

$13.00 per hour

$13.50 per hour



New York City
(10 or less employees)

$12.00 per hour

$13.50 per hour



Long Island and Westchester County

$11.00 per hour

$11.75 per hour



Rest of New York

$10.40 per hour

$11.75 per hour



New Jersey

$8.60 per hour

$8.60 per hour



What is the overtime rate for restaurant workers?

Restaurants often miscalculate the overtime rate for when employees work more than 40 hours in a week. Here are the correct rates:


Overtime Rate

New York City (11 or more employees)


New York City (10 or less employees)


Long Island and Westchester County


Rest of New York


New Jersey


Who can share in tips? Is tip pooling legal?

While it is legal to pool tips amongst waiters, bussers, hosts, and bartenders, it is unlawful for management and back of the house employees such as cooks and dishwashers to receive any portion of tips, gratuities or a service charge.

Are service fees legal?

If a restaurant, catering hall or country club charges a fixed service charge or gratuity, those funds should be paid in their entirety to the service staff. For example, a restaurant that charges a 20% service fee. It is likely illegal for the company to retain any of those service charges or gratuities, with certain exceptions for tips left on a credit card.

Here are some common violations and issues affecting restaurant employees:

  • If an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s direct wages do not equal the minimum hourly rate and the restaurant does not make up the difference.
  • Employers may not charge restaurant employees for customer walkouts or breakages
  • Employers may be required to reimburse the cost of your uniform and cleaning charges.
  • All hourly restaurant workers are likely entitled to time and one-half overtime for each hour worked over forty (40) hours per week. Even salaried restaurant workers, such as Cooks, dishwashers, cashiers, and hostesses are also entitled to time and one-half overtime for all hours worked over forty (40) hours per week.

Contact Our New York City Waiter Lawyers

If you have any questions about whether you are being lawfully paid, you should contact the experienced restaurant worker attorney at Lipsky Lowe. With Lipsky Lowe, you have strength in your corner.

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