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Can your employer really pay you $2.13 per hour?

You may have heard people say that those working in the service industry are often only paid $2.13 per hour. This applies to tipped workers, such as waiters and waitresses, along with many others in the service industry. 

To you, that seems like an absurdly low wage and you can’t imagine how it could be legal for someone to earn so little. Is it actually possible for your employer to pay you $2.13 an hour just because you get tips?

It doesn’t apply in California

There are a few things to note here, the first of which is that $2.13 is simply the minimum cash wage allowed by the federal government. This is set by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The federal government also has a total minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

This means that tips have to be factored into the equation. If an employee makes at least $5.12 per hour in tips, then the employer only has to pay $2.13 an hour under federal law. But if an employee makes less than that, the employer has to make up the difference.

However, the main thing to remember is that the FLSA minimums do not apply in California. Every state can set its own minimum wage, and California’s is currently set at 15.50 per hour. Employees can certainly still earn tips, but they do not count toward this wage, and the full value has to be paid by the employer, no matter what.

If you believe that your employer may have violated your rights by paying you too little, be sure you know what legal steps to take.

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