Mass AG Leads Multi-State Coalition In Defense of Tipped Workers’ Rights

The following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE media.

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BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey led a coalition of 19 attorneys general in submitting a comment letter today, December 10, to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) opposing a new rule that would revoke important protections for tipped workers and make it harder for these workers to make a living wage.

Under state and federal law, employers may pay tipped employees a lower service rate, no less than $4.35 per hour in Massachusetts, as long as actual tips paid by customers bring employees’ earnings up to the minimum wage rate, which is $12 per hour in Massachusetts.

For decades, tipped workers have been protected by the “80/20 Rule,” which ensures any worker being paid a lower service rate spends no more than 20 percent of their work time doing non-tipped work that is related and incidental to their tip-generating work. But DOL’s proposal eliminates the 80/20 Rule and allows employers to assign non-tipped work such as cleaning, cooking and other tasks to tipped employees while still taking a tip credit and paying workers a lower wage.

“Tips are the only way that most service workers can earn a living wage in Massachusetts,” said AG Healey. “This proposed change by USDOL would be harmful for tipped workers and their families by driving down their take home pay.”

Joining Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Illinois in sending today’s comment letter are the attorneys general from California, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

In the comment letter, co-led by AG Healey, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, the coalition writes that the proposed rule would further erode the already low wages of tipped workers and leave them more vulnerable to wage theft and other workplace abuses. The letter further argues that the proposal is contrary to the purpose of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is to protect workers, and that DOL ignored the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act when it failed to examine the proposal’s impact on wages and increased reliance on social safety net programs.

The AG’s Fair Labor Division enforces laws regulating the payment of wages, including prevailing wage, minimum wage, and overtime laws. Workers who believe that their rights have been violated are encouraged to call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465 or visit the AG’s Fair Labor Division website www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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