Some Missouri tipped worker wages to increase - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Some Missouri tipped worker wages to increase

Some Missouri tipped worker wages to increase
By: CJ Cassidy

A Cole County, Missouri judges decision that tipped workers at restaurants should get back pay - after the minimum wage increased January first, could have an effect on restaurants across the Show Me State.

Until March, the Department of Labor interpreted the law to mean employees could pay the federal minimum wage $2.13 an hour for tipped employees.

Turns out, now, any restaurant owner with gross sales of more than $500,000 annually must pay their wait staff at least half the minimum wage - $3.25 an hour, as long as tips make up the difference.

One owner says as the issue heats up across the state, she's stuck with a hefty price tag.

No matter why you choose to visit the Ponderosa Steakhouse, servers like Jaime Hacker will wait on you - hoping you'll tip them for their efforts when it's all said and done. "It's nice to get that money, but I didn't think it was fair at all considering everybody else is working for less money than I am, plus we're getting extra money and they're getting less hours," she says.

Jaime's employer, Kathe Ramsey - explains wage increases alone added up to more than $1,000 a week - and that money had to come from somewhere. "We've analyzed each position, and cut out several positions. We're running at a bare minimum now," Ramsey says, adding that leaves kitchen staff hungry for more hours.

She also points out, customers aren't much happier. "We had to raise prices of food. We had no choice with electric going up, gas going up, and the cost of food going up and then everyone had to raise the minimum wage too," she says.

Meanwhile Jaime Hacker says service with a smile just isn't enough when you're up against a customer with a frown. "I've noticed tipping getting a little worse recently. People complain because prices have gone up. They're not happy, so I'm not going to get tipped as much," she says.

Kathe Ramsey - the co-owner of the Ponderosa Steakhouse in Perryville, says she voluntarily paid her employees the back-pay she owed them.

Meanwhile the attorney representing the restaurants in Cole County, plans to appeal the judge's ruling in that case.

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