Back in November, the U.S. Department of Labor rescinded the controversial Obama-era 80/20 Rule, dictating how restaurants paid tipped workers, barring employers from taking tip credit from workers who spend more than 20 percent of their time doing non-tipped work. Now, Orange County fair wage attorneys understand a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri rejected the DOL’s guidance, finding it “unpersuasive and unworthy.”
The judge further stated that the Labor Department’s issuance of an opinion letter abruptly shifting gears on this issue after 10 years of consistently construing such regulation as limited by the 80/20 rule wouldn’t persuade the court to apply a new interpretation of litigation. Noting the DOL gave zero reasoning or evidence of any in-depth consideration for reversing its position, and it doesn’t stand up to the standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court, and characterized the November rule change as a “sudden surprise” and an “unjustified departure” from the agency’s previous guidance.
Per the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 USC s. 201, employers must pay workers at least $2.13 hourly for their wages, then take a tip credit in order to make up the difference between the worker’s wages and federal minimum wage. The 80/20 rule arose because tipped workers were spending an extensive amount of time carrying out non-tip-generating duties, like rolling silverware or setting tables. The updated guidance from the DOL was that the agency was no longer going to limit the amount of time workers could spend performing those duties. Continue reading