UnderCover Waitress: If it looks like a bad deal, feels like a bad deal, and smells like bad deal...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

If it looks like a bad deal, feels like a bad deal, and smells like bad deal...

...it's not a good deal.

Ask the Waitress!
I was offered a job in a small town café. I would be waitressing and helping fix food along with another lady that works there. This would only be for two hours a day during their busy lunch. I would be paid minimum wage, the other worker gets minimum wage also, but she would get to keep all of the tips, which probably range from $40 to $50. She is a full time worker there. She said she would give me $5.00 a week in tips, which I think is a joke. I just feel like I would be taken advantage of, because I would be doing most of the waitressing, and yet she keeps all of the tips? Does this sound right to you? The extra money would be nice, but I think I would feel taken advantage of. This place is very busy at lunch and I would be running my tail off. What do you think?
The biggest problem with small town establishments is when the owners, managers and even employees think they are above the rules. "This is how we do things here," "This is how it's always been," and "We all know each other; we don't need regulation" are my least favorite things to hear in any workplace.

First, it sounds as if you would be both kitchen and dining room help. Paying you at least minimum wage is appropriate; it also makes asking you to work in the kitchen while also serving tables legal. No problem here.

Also, if you are making minimum wage, then you are not necessarily owed tips. However, if customers are leaving you tips then you may have a right to that money.

If you are serving your own tables, then customers who leave a tip are leaving it for you. An employer requiring you to keep only $5 per week is being grossly unfair and this is cause to complain to the Department of Labor.

If you are both serving tables together, it makes sense you would split the tips.

If there is at tip jar at the counter, it should be emptied before you begin work. All tips earned by the two of you working together get split.

I don't know anything except what you wrote above, so there may (?) be other details that could affect my answer. But responding solely to your words above, you are correct. $5 per week in tips is not only a joke, it is an insult. It sounds as if they need the extra help during the busy lunch shift, but are not willing to pay your fairly in return for your labor.

I know you wrote to me a couple of weeks ago; I hope you made the decision that felt best to you, and I wish you good luck.

Thanks for asking the waitress!


  1. Wow, $5.00 per week in tips? I got that much as an allowance 30 years ago. WTF??

  2. I went and tried it one Saturday. I helped out for 2 and a half hours, waiting tables and helping cook. She had a huge cup that was filled with dollar bills, and I was to put any money left on the tables in the cup. When I left, she didn't offer me anything, needless to say, I didn't go back. When I saw her a few days later, she said, oh you would've got paid at the end of the week. I did not find that fair at all.

    1. Unbelievable! Thank you for writing in again to let us know what happened. :) This woman and the employer have a lot of gall. The very idea that you would put your table tips into her cup would send any professional waitress packing, but the whole thing just stinks. Glad you didn't go back.

  3. Now who in their right mind would agree to that?


Please share your thoughts.