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New York tip credit hearings are underway

Public hearings are being held in New York to evaluate the state's minimum wage tip credit. Restaurants and other employers in the Empire State are permitted to pay tipped workers less than the minimum wage, which is currently $12 or $13 depending of the size of the workforce. The first hearing was held in Nassau County on April 20 and chaired by the state's labor commissioner. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to hold the meetings during his 2018 state of the state address in January.

The governor and advocacy groups say that tips should be rewards for a job well done and not used by employers to avoid paying their workers a living wage. Seven states have already eliminated the tip credit, and workers' rights groups say that they are confident the District of Columbia will follow suit. Tip credits in New York currently range from $2.90 per hour for employers outside New York City or Long Island to $4.35 per hour for employers in New York City with 11 or more workers.

The hospitality sector strongly supports the current rules, and a conservative think tank took aim at any proposed changes to the tip credit in a full-page New York Post ad. However, these arguments are unlikely to sway Cuomo or other lawmakers who have said that tip credits are discriminatory. The governor called for public hearings after pointing out that seven out of 10 tipped workers in New York are women and African-American servers are often tipped less than their Caucasian colleagues.

Employers in New York can face severe sanctions for violating the state's wage and hour laws, and attorneys with experience in this are may take legal action on behalf of workers who have been underpaid or otherwise treated unfairly. Attorneys might be able to advise workers considering such a claim to gather as much evidence as they can before stepping forward as these cases are often decided based on documents such as time cards and payroll records.

Source: Nation's Restaurant News, New York to begin tip-credit public hearings, Ron Ruggless, April 16, 2018

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