Oct 082003
Authors: Stacey Schneider

If I am lucky enough to get 100 people to read this article,

that means over 33 of you have worked in the restaurant industry,

or will work in the industry, at some point in your lives. About 33

of you have run a wrong order to the back to be fixed, contemplated

spitting in a difficult customer’s food and received low wages only

to be dependent on tips.

According to Colorado laws, $2.13 per hour is the minimum wage

an employer can pay a “tipped” employee. That is $3.02 below the

Colorado minimum wage ($5.15 per hour.) In order to cover that

difference, restaurants rely on the customers to provide tips. The

company is required to pay the amount necessary to reach the $5.15

mark in the event an employee does not receive enough in tips to

make the minimum wage. However, if every other business is required

to pay each employee minimum wage, why are restaurant businesses

allowed to escape this rule?

First things first, tips are discretionary. While they have

become the normal practice and are now expected, they are still up

to each individual. It is a compensatory extra to reward service.

If a server treats the customer as a nuisance in his or her day,

the customer should not be expected to tip well, or even at all. A

customer should not be required to give extra money for poor


In retail stores, the managers are mandated to pay each employee

$5.15 for each hour worked. This payment is in the form of a check

from the company. Customers are not coming up to customer service

employees and handing them five-dollar bills. It should not be the

responsibility of a customer to directly pay the employees. Payment

is the job of the manager and company.

Many states have recognized this need for change in the

restaurant industry. For example, Washington requires even the

restaurant industry to pay the state minimum wage, which is $7.01

per hour. Employers cannot count tips towards this minimum wage.

Tips can still be earned, however, each server is not as dependent

on them. These tips are more a bonus for a job well done. If this

were implemented in Colorado, that would mean those 33 of you I was

talking to earlier (assuming I didn’t lose anyone to the Letterman

Top Ten) would be able to breathe a little easier.

Since Fort Collins has more restaurants per capita than most

cities in the nation, food outings are a common occurrence. Next

time you are out, think about the person serving you. If they

provide excellent service, reward them. Until wage laws in Colorado

change, tips are of major importance. Ok, you can go and read

Letterman now.




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