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NJRA launches campaign to ensure tipped workers get right wages

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The New Jersey Restaurant Association in Trenton launched an online campaign today to make the state's tipped employee wages easier to understand, which included sending information to New Jersey legislators regarding the enforcement of the current laws.

Marilou Halvorsen, president of the NJRA, wanted to clear up any confusion.

"New Jersey already requires tipped employees to receive at least the minimum hourly wage," Halvorsen said in a recent news release. "Federal law has a different, lower hourly wage that does not apply here."

By law, New Jersey tipped employees must receive a minimum of $8.25 an hour and $12.38 per every hour of overtime—if a tipped employee does not meet that wage during their shift, employers must pay the difference by increasing their base wage.

The federal law merely states that the minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 an hour and $4.13 per every hour of overtime, regardless of how much income an employee makes in tips.

To further complicate matters, a Democratic bill now in the Senate hopes to raise the base wage for tipped workers to at least $7.10 an hour. President Obama has made eliminating low-wage work and closing the income inequality gap a focus for his second term.

Republicans oppose the bill citing job loss, higher prices and an inability to stimulate the economy. The NJRA also opposes raising the minimum tipped wage, stating that tipped restaurant servers already make a median wage between $16 and $22 an hour.

But the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics begs to differ—it calculated in May 2013 that servers make an average of $8.94 an hour.

According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Labor Department, servers are three times as likely to experience poverty, and about half of all tipped workers would earn more under the proposal.

Both employees and restaurateurs are encouraged to visit www.njra.org/tippedemployees to ensure their place of business complies with current laws.

Employees or employers who would like to report wage and hour violations can contact the Wage and Hour Divisions in either the Federal or State Labor Departments. More information can be found at www.wagehour.dol.gov.

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Meg Fry

Meg Fry

Meg Fry covers manufacturing and retail. Meg joins NJBIZ with past production experience in the arts, film and television. She continues to write and market her own spec scripts and screenplays. You can contact her at megf@njbiz.com or @MegFry3 on Twitter.

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