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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Is a BarBack defined as a Tip Employee?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Puerto Rico

    Hi. I live in Puerto Rico which falls under the jurisdiction of US Federal Laws.

    My question pertains to my current situation: I am a barback employed at a restaurant. My duty and responsibility is to make sure that the bar is operational. In other words, I do the physical jobs of the bar, for example: refilling the ice bins, replacing empty liquor bottles with new ones, etc... Basically, I'm the bartender's helping hand - similar to what a busboy is to the waiter.

    It is customary that each bartender tips the barback (me) a percentage of his tips (usually 10 to 12 percent).

    However, there have been times when I have been paid a lower a percentage. Sometimes they'll use the excuse that I forgot something to not give a good cut of the tips. Fine, I can handle that.

    The problem arises from the fact that the salary paid by my employer equals that of a bartender at $3.15. In other restaurants, usually the barback is paid at the minimum wage or close to it because he does not receive tips directly from the customers. Rather, he is paid the customary 10 to 12 percent of the bartender's tips.

    So when the bartenders try to hustle me out of receiving the customary percentage, it creates a big problem.

    I also want to add that, yes, I do make at least minimum wage with the tips and salary included, although sometimes barely.

    My question is this: Is a barback who receives a percentage of tips, indirectly from the tip-pooling of the bartenders, considered and defined under US Federal laws, a "tip employee."

    I have researched what qualifies as a tip-employee and I cannot find any mention of a barback being defined as a tip-employee.

    Because if I am not, I wonder if the employer is violating any laws for paying me less the minimum wage as he would with the regularly defined "tip employee" such as a waiter or bartender.

    Thank You for concerning yourself in this matter.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    If the employer is paying you less than minimum wage, then the employer is defining you as a tip employee to avoid paying the minimum wage. That gives you the access to tips and any other tip employee. Demand your share and if the employer refuses, then report him.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    small town, PA
    Yes, if you "customarily and regularly" receive at least $30 in tips per month.

    You have not won the law suit lottery; in fact, you haven't even won the law suit scratch-off.
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