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If I'm a server in New York, how much side work can my employer make me do?

New York City law and New York State law provide specific protections for tipped workers, but many people who work in the restaurant industry are not fully aware of their rights.

For example, did you know that if you're a server working for tips, your employer is not allowed to make you do side work that is not tip-producing? If your employer does this, then your minimum wage should be $8.75 an hour, not the minimum $5 an hour currently paid to tipped workers.

Incidentally, New York City's minimum wage for tipped workers is set to increase to $7.50 at the end of 2015. You can read about that increase in one of our posts from February. 

A woman who was a server at a barbecue restaurant in Harlem recently brought a class action lawsuit against her former employer, claiming that servers at the restaurant and its other locations in Brooklyn and Syracuse were treated unfairly. According to the suit, tipped workers were required to do side work such as cleaning the restaurant, taking out the garbage and stocking the bar, and this work took up more than 20 percent of the workers' time on the job.

The suit also claims that tipped workers were required to pay a $10 management fee and occasionally tip out kitchen workers more than 17 percent of the servers' earnings.

If you believe your employer is treating you unfairly -- such as skimming your tips, shifting business costs onto you or requiring you to do work that you're not paid to do -- then speak with a New York employment law attorney. An employment lawyer can explain your options for getting the compensation you deserve.

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