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Server hits Baltimore restaurant with wage lawsuit

Under federal and Maryland state laws, the minimum wage is currently set at $7.25. However, many people do not know that restaurant servers are often among those who can be paid a much lower wage, just $3.63 an hour, plus tips, here in Maryland.

A former employee of a popular downtown Baltimore restaurant has filed a wage and hours lawsuit against the restaurant, saying that he was paid under the state-required minimum wage for servers, and that he was not paid properly for overtime hours.

The man reportedly worked at the restaurant from 2009 until Jan. 1 2012, and he was paid $3.28 an hour plus tips; and he was paid only straight-time instead of time-and-a-half for overtime hours.

The lawsuit requests monetary damages as well as attorney's fees. It does not specify the exact amount of damages.

The intersection of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Maryland's Wage and Hour Law leaves many employers and employees confused about wage and overtime laws. However, confusion is not an excuse and employers should be sure to seek counsel if they are unsure whether their payrolls fall within legal boundaries.

Often, people feel that it is OK to pay tipped workers less because they earn money in tips. In fact, our laws reflect this attitude in that they already provide a far lower wage for many tipped workers. It is important, however, not to pay tipped workers even less than the minimum wage that is established in employment law statutes.

Employees who feel they have been shortchanged are often wise to seek counsel and stand up for their rights.

Source: Baltimore Business Journal, "Former worker sues Pratt Street Ale House over wages," Gary Haber, Sept. 4, 2012

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