ANCHORAGE — Although a lower court ruled in favor of two Lower 48 employers who mandated employee tip pools, a recent ruling from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could overturn that decision and lead to Alaskan workers receiving more tips than ever before, according to KTVA Alaska.
The lower court decision ruled in favor of mandated tip pools as the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 granted employers the right to use employee tip pools to provide equal pay distribution among their employees. However, the judge presiding over the case in appeals court has stated that the tip pools should only involve workers carrying the definition of “tip-earning.”
These workers would be those who directly work with customers, including servers and bartenders. What the lower court did not properly consider was the practice of employers to include non-tip earning employees in the pool as well.
Cooks, janitors, and managers are required to be paid the minimum wage as they are not typically in a position to receive tips. Servers and bartenders however typically do not get paid minimum wage as it is expected that their tip amounts will compensate for their lower pay, although this is not legal in Alaska.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development speculated that the decision, “will likely increase the total amount of tips retained by Alaska servers, bartender and other tipped workers.”
Additionally, Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas reported that, “This court decision could have significant impacts on how Alaska servers, bartenders, and other workers get paid, and I encourage employers to review their compensation policies to ensure they comply with the law.”
Anchorage Labor Regulation Information
Alaska labor regulations as they apply to in-state workers are characterized by both state and federal laws that provide employees with a wide range of safety and financial protections.
The current minimum wage of Alaska is $9.75 per hour, one of the highest statewide minimum wages in the country as of July 2016. Because of this high minimum wage, it is not uncommon for employers to attempt to manipulate employment records to avoid paying higher wages and save labor costs.
This employer practice is exceptionally common when dealing with overtime wage compensation as an employer can easily manipulate records to avoid paying their employees the increased overtime rate. As required by the Fair Labor Standards Act, any non-exempt employee is entitled to be paid 150% of their standard hourly wage for all hours worked over 40 in a standard work week.
An employer cannot retaliate in any fashion against an employee who pursues legal action against them for labor violations or who assists a government agency with a labor violation investigation. If you believe that your current or past employer was responsible for labor violations you can pursue action against without any negative risk regarding employment status or action.
Call (855) 754-2795 to discuss your legal options with a trained labor law attorney who will be able to assist you in determining what action you should take against the responsible employer, there are no fees for calls or legal assistance unless you win a financial settlement through legal action.