Are You a Waiter Tired of Being Ripped Off? Go to!

When I was a waiter I saw and heard about restaurant owners and managers pulling all sorts of illegal nonsense. Here are a few of them.

1. Telling a new hire that they wouldn’t be paid during their two week “probationary period” and then, when that expired, cut them loose.

2. A restaurant owner illegally making the waiters kick a portion of their tips to the kitchen in order to augment the piss poor wages he was paying them.

3. A restaurant owner dipping into the tip pool to give money to his kid, chauffer or sibling.

4. A manager asking for bribes under the guise of “gifts” so a waiter could get better shifts or even work at all.

5. Ownership using money from the tip pool to pay pastry chefs, managers and banquet managers.

6. A restaurant who paid it’s staff less than two dollars an hour and fined the delivery boys when food was stolen from them or for slamming the door.

7. A restaurant owner who regularly made anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist comments to his staff.

8. Restaurant owners refusing to pay for workers’ injuries because of their immigration status.

9. Owners who shorted the government on payroll taxes.

10. Management who demanded sexual favors for good shifts.

11. Physical abuse and mental cruelty.

12. Refusing to pay workers for vacation time that they were told to expect.

13. Making waiters pay for breakage and when customers walked out on the check.

14. Owners who stole from the tip pool to finance their cocaine habits and strip club patronage.

15. Not paying for overtime. (None of the places I worked at ever heard of the concept.)

16. If a waiter had a stain on his white apron, make the waiter buy a replacement worth 2 dollars for 15 bucks or go home.

17. Taking credit card processing fees for the entire check out of a waiter’s tip.

18. Taking money out of waiters’ pay for meals and then not feeding them or offering a bowl of tasty gruel as a substitute.

19. Failure to pay minimum wage. Yes, waiters are paid below minimum wages in the expectation tips will make up for the shortfall. But if it’s a slow night and the server’s tips do not bring him to the hourly mimimum, the owner has to make up the difference. You can expect hell to freeze over before that happens.

20. And my favorite, a manager who called the cops on waiters when they had the temerity to argue with them and then accuse the the poor slob of stealing.

But do not fear my weary and abused brethren, help is out there. I’d like you to introduce you to a wonderful website – It’s run by the law firm of Berke-Weiss & Pechman in New York City and they have vigorously sued and won millions of dollars in judgments for New York City waiters

Now you might not be able to prove if a restaurant is guilty of sexual, mental or verbal harassment – but you sure as hell can sue when they violate Federal and State labor laws and screw you out of your hard earned money. It’s kind of like getting Al Capone on tax evasion. Now many restaurants are above board and treat their workers with respect, but quite a few of them don’t. If you feel like your restaurant is fleecing you take a gander at their website or give them a call.

Hit the guilty where it hurts – their wallets.

And no, I have not been paid for this endorsement.


Are You a Waiter Tired of Being Ripped Off? Go to! — 55 Comments

  1. There’s a hotel locally here that charges an automatic 20% gratuity on all banquet events. They take a full 50% off the top before distributing it among the banquet service staff.

  2. Re #19:

    Is that calculated on a per-shift basis, as you imply? In Rhode Island I know it’s on a weekly basis (my sister’s waited tables there) but maybe it’s better in NY…

  3. They nickel and dime you to’s against the law to charge you for plate breakage…..If Visa or MasterCard charge 2-3% from the top of all credit charges…it is against the law to make waiters pay credit card processing fees!!!

  4. Hi Waiter,
    Could you rewrite this one, because I can’t understand it because your pronouns seem to have gone haywire. Thank you!! Love your blog.

    “a manager who called the cops on waiters when they had the temerity to argue with them and then accuse the the poor slob of stealing. “

  5. Saw this site mentioned on Where was this site when I was a waiter/bartender. I cuurently work in retail home improvement, got to have a job right, and see the same kinds of abuse from customers towards employees, and manager can not do anything to protect the employees. The say, “we don’t want to be sued”. Very sad, always thought it was just drunks, or social outcasts that think” Rude Is Cool”. This site should be expanded to include all retail employees, the jerks are now everywhere???
    New money is bad money. Give people an opportunity to make a good living, and they want to act like kings and queens, towards the peons, right? Can you imagine someone coming in to buy a bucket of paint, and go to the cheackout, then call the cashier, who is a really young nice girl, a whore and trash, for no reason, other than they can? Yet, happens everyday.

  6. As wallis said, this happens everywhere. In a previous life when i worked for a guy in the building industry, he decided he would pay me a daily rate cash in hand (as he expected me to be there briefly) when it started working out for him he said i would be getting less in my pocket as he had to start taking tax out. That year i didnt earn enough to hit the tax threshold and i asked him for the certificate so i could claim back all the tax i had paid (only a few hundred dollars) he couldn’t produce and made out like i was being unreasonable. Bosses … who needs em. I could have used a website like that back then!

  7. I am so glad I live and serve in Canada. The only bullshit we have to deal with is high tipouts for the kitchen, management and for breakage. I still get paid $9.35 an hour (min wage) and then my tips, minus 4% of sales, are mine. I’m sorry to all of my fellow servers in the states, it sucks that you have to deal with all of this.

    • I know waiters that make $200 a night in tips, so don’t go feeling bad for all of them. I know every waiter/waitress I have talked to would rather have a chance at making a good tip by providing good service, than having a set wage and have little or no tips. That way, if they work harder, they make more, it’s really a great system!

  8. I worked for a resturant in Ct. at nite and 1 of the girls was leaving. So the manager gave me her shift which was the morning Sun-Thur. 2 days befor her last day she decided to stay. And instead of giving her my old shift he ler her have her regular shift. So I complained about it and said I was all set for the day shift he fired me. Told me I had no business to complain and he could do what ever he wanted. He was the boss.

  9. Do they have a WaiterPay site for Virginia? I work as a server in a restaurant in Arlington, VA and fortunately the staff/management are good, but some customers…

    I just finished reading Waiter Rant (the book). It was amazing and I could definitely relate to most of it.

  10. Be careful, just like employers checking someone’s Facebook page before hiring, they’ll now check to see if you’ve ever sued another restaurant.

  11. Servers are the chore of society! Where else can you get a few minutes to drag a person; having them wait on you hand and foot-run them like dogs, talk down to them like the $2.13 per hour laborer, forget their name and have them respond to whistles or other low-life cat calls…make a person jump at the sound of a slurping straw sucking the bottom out of the glass to cause chaos and more frustrations….or to get the more pleasant fake ass smile with looks of concern as the patron rattles on about issues and problems? I love serving. I am on stage and I can be whomever I need to be at any given moment…. People suck. Mean people suck worse. And, I invite you to make a complaint! My name is AJ. I don’t care! Ha! How ’bout that? I wanted to create a website for us to complain on the people that take time out of their busy lives to complain on us but found Waiter Rant already exists! You Rock! Tip of the day….don’t piss me off! I have a split personality named L O L A that would love to make your day!

  12. i don’t understand all the complaints…I worked as a waiter, then bartender for 10+ years…put my way through college with lots of $1 tips, traveled the world and put 20% down on a house…again all from tips. You only get paid for how hard you work…the tips go in your pocket…the good far outweigh the bad…Stop crying and pick up another shift!

  13. I worked at a restaurant where they paid us 3 dollars an hour, and what happens is I work a 10am-3pm and make nothing for lunch, maybe like 20 dollars, then cater to a banquet with no tips, just a banquet function, and still get paid 3 dollars an hour because I wasn’t allowed to take tipping guests, when I asked for a higher hourly wage for catering to banquets, they said I got tipped that day so I still worked for 3 dollars an hour for like 6 hours and made 20 dollars the whole day!

  14. Thank you Robert #15!! I was a server for 6 years and loved it! I have an 8-5 job now and i honestly miss serving alot and want to go back. Although it stinks to get a crappy/no tip once in awhile, and it is very easy to start having a “woe is me” attitude about it, most people tip ok and the money adds up fast. so stop compaining! i put myself through college with tips as well and it was a perfect job for me and my outgoing personality. Plus there are pros and cons to every job…like the tailbone pain and weight gain i am experiencing for sitting in an office all day! yuck!

  15. @ Robert #15 & Michelle #17:

    Remember that not everyone works in the same restaurants that you did, nor did they have the same experiences you did. I’m happy that you had an enjoyable time working as a waiter, but I wouldn’t be so quick to brush off the complaints of others.

  16. That’s a great resource you’ve posted, guru, and timely at that. Over the years working in ‘the biz’ I have certainly seen my share of advantageous behavior on the part of managers and owners against waitstaff. In these days of ‘tightening up’ it seems like it’s happening more and more.

    While working as a server in Texas I sued, and settled with, a former employer who made the waitstaff tip out the kitchen. This is a violation of federal wage law as kitchen employees are ‘non-customarily’ tipped employees.

    While I can’t disclose how much my settlement was for I can tell you it was respectable and enough to take several months off had I wanted to. At the same time I was only entitled to sue for damages for the last two years I was there and subjected to the illegal policies. There’s a time limit on these things so if you feel you’re being exploited in this particular area, I highly suggest you speak with an attorney who specializes in these kinds of cases sooner than later. Had I been eligible to receive damages for the full seven years I worked there, I literally would have been awarded enough money to take a year or more off of work had I so desired.

    I receive no compensation whatsoever for making this endorsement but if you live in Texas and feel you are being exploited by the tip out policies of the restaurant where you work, consider contacting the firm that represented me. They specialize in these kinds of restaurant industry cases and did great work. ( )

    The Jaded Waiter

  17. I’ve worked at a bunch of restaurants back in my day, and I can tell you that I’ve experienced most of these problems. It get’s my heart pumping just remembering them. I wish I knew about that website earlier! They mostly take advantage of immigrants and young people the most.

  18. WOW! I started in the industry as a server and now own a couple of restaurants. My sister has bartended for 30 years(not for me) and has always shared her management nightmare stories. So I feel as though I have insight from a few different perspectives on this, I think your post is kin to the mentality that owners have which is 90% of employees steal from you.
    That isn’t true just as I’ve never seen or even heard of many of these things you discuss happen accept in small instances or local lore being told at the late night watering holes!
    Lawyers like this firm are telling you they’re looking out for you but really they’re just “ambulance chasers”. As I tell my managers, take your time hiring someone. Make sure they fit our culture and attitude then treat them like family.
    You should do the same in looking for work in this great industry of ours. Unfortunately there are as many poor owners and managers as there are in the employee ranks. Some will try to stick it to you…but most are working hard just like you in the toughest industry around.
    It’s the people business that serves food and drinks not the other way around.
    Great Blog though, I tune in often!

  19. I believe in Texas you have to average for the week below $2.13 an hour thus for that to kick the place has to be in the advanced stages of its death spiral.

  20. Waiter,
    Love your writing! Took your second book on vacation and couldn’t stop talking about it. It was entertaining and disturbing. I learned so much, particularly about tippers and their motivation (especially the narcissistists)—dead on!
    Great work and great blog!

  21. Can anyone clarify “Taking credit card processing fees for the entire check out of a waiter’s tip.”? I was under the impression that this practice was legal, albeit cheap.

  22. @Phil #22, It sounds like you’re the kind of owner who people would Want to work for, so you can probably attract the best people. Not everyong has the time/opportunity to only accept jobs in places that will treat them well, sometimes you have to take a crappy job to make ends meet.

    I used to work as a delivery driver for a certain iconic Australian-owned pizza chain, but quite after a number of months when I did the sums and realised I wasn’t really making any money. You have to provide your own car, pay for fuel, and you get a pittance per delivery, plus the majority of Australians don’t tip, it’s not part of the culture. It’s not worth it imo, not for the hassle. I worked for some good assistant managers and a good manager, but it was sometimes the other staff who caused problems. If we swapped shifts, the person doing the asking was supposed to post the shift change up, but I got an obscenity-filled rant from the manager on my answering machine one day because another driver hadn’t posted up our shift change. Next time I saw her I made sure she knew He was the one who had let her down, not me. I had a stellar reputation to back me up, I made a mistake from time to time, but everyone knew I worked hard and did my best. Plus I was a damn good driver and had a short-wheelbase car in an area with a lot of curving roads, so I got deliveries done fast.

  23. My favorite is making the waiter’s come into work when they are running a temp of over 104 because they have an inspection that day. Also making them come in when every street surrounding the waiter’s place of residence is flooded above the roof of car’s or covered in five inches or more of solid ice.

  24. To whoever wrote with the name The Truth about two comments above mine. Yes it is your job, as a waiter, to serve the customer. That however does not mean the customer has the right to be rude, demanding, steal things, or leave very small or no tip for them when they leave. Also please be polite when you post on public forums, and use appropriate language. It shows that you respect your fellow humans. Everyone is equal, no one is below another due to a job description. So please be nice to others.

  25. I work at a high-end restaurant between Aspen and Vail. I consider myself lucky that only three or four things on this list apply to me.

    /Why do foreigners pretend that they aren’t aware that tip % here is TWENTY???

  26. I’m a chef in a trendy restaurant, but I’ve worked the front of the house too. Whoever wrote the comment under the Truth either wrote that just to get a negative response from other people in the industry, or is really just a piece of shit. You know, the kind of person that pushes his weight around people that are smaller than him, doesn’t tip servers and has to pay prostitutes for sex because he’s socially inept. Also, no one’s below you.

  27. It’s too bad there isn’t something like this in Idaho. I recently quit a job where our manager was EASILY in violation of at least 6 of the things on your list!! So frustrating!!!

  28. steve,

    have you ever considered the possibility that people tip poorly because they can’t properly calculate 20% of their total bill?

    just wondering. in my experience most americans don’t understand percentages at all.

    you should do a poll/test to find out…

  29. I work @ Well known family Concept restaurant It’s world wide! I am sick of the uneducated people! 15% is standaed! If the server flirts, keeps you company, tells a joke, in other words went over the top…………….tip over the top! 25%! 35%! 55%! and up! We only have to take your order, bring it to you, refill your drinks, clean your table, and bring you your damn bill! What’s this 10% or 5% on a $100 or more worth of food. Talk about rude! I need more napkins and get me some more water! Where is please and thanks? Does anyone realize a waiter could spit in your food or piss in your sweet ice tea? It’s easy…………………trust me! Oh let’s not forget…………………the people that act like the need a few mins to look at the menu………….when you return in 60sec. with there drinks……………….all they want is a Fuc@$&*g hamburger with fries! What the hell is Mcdonalds for? LOL Holla!!!

  30. I worked at a “gourmet” restaurant where every new server had to be trained by a manager. I served a dinner shift where the manager spent the entire shift doing orders. When I made $75 in tips (I work in a small city, that’s a bank here!) and she took the entire bounty b/c I was “training.” Bitch didn’t even offer to give me a portion.

    Then, they decided I didn’t “look the part” (I’m older than the 21-perky-tightassed-blonde look) so they started scheduling me for lunch shifts where I literally spent more money on parking than I made.

    I now work for a restaurant where the owners pay medical benefits, let you actually stay home if you’ve got the stomach flu and don’t judge a server on appearance. As a result, they’ve got staff that stays years and years.

  31. Wow! I remember when a company I worked for engaged in some unethical payroll practices. They lost the class action lawsuit as a corp. The staff that worked with me were reimbursed for lost wages they never lost. That maybe the best part of working for a corp. Everyone get’s paid when some dumb ass rips someone off clear across the country. Kewl site by the way about our biz!! Thanks!!

  32. LOVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Waiter’s Rant…I loved the lady at the end, I thought it was going to be Beth or the alcoholic lady turning sober ( the one who said that you were kind to her the night she was kicked out.) I cryed and laughed my way all the way through this book and I look forward to reading your other books. Thank you for writing!!!!!!!!!

  33. James #32
    Speaking as a foreigner and a waiter in the UK I am obliged to defend my nation on the 20% thing. We have a standard minimum wage for ALL jobs and this is not made up from the tips. Therefore most people over here will tip at around 15%, the 10% went out long ago for all you UK readers! I will also say that feigning ignorance that you are not aware that a server in the US needs the tips to make a salary is a cheapskate ruse to avoid parting with more money.

    On the topic of tips I worked for a boss who used to ‘fine’ the tips for misdemeanors within the restaurant, sometimes complex, but often simple things like a customer waited to long for butter. These could range from £1 a fine to £50 a fine. The tips were sorted on a fortnightly basis by myself and a payment was paid to tronc to satisfy the taxman. The bosses cut had to be made BEFORE the tax was taken, kept in cash and handed over in an envelope. It would never be less than £750. He got pissed once when I taxed his cut at a %40 rate befitting his earnings status! Suffice to say this was one of a range of scams he was running and when I left he then turned on a close friend and fired him on the spot for no reason. We got our revenge, we told the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise where all the skeletons were hidden… he is still paying!!

  34. Would really rather you went back to basics and engaged with us, rather than using us as your unconsenting test audience for entries we didn’t initially sign up for.

  35. I live in Las Vegas, NV and there is one very point that I will add to the list if you are in the restaurant business in Sin City. One of hte pre-requisites to even apply for a serving or bartendin job is to have the “model type” You gotta be f-ing kidding me! Basically, if you look like you are on your late thirties, you are screwed, forget about getting a job out here! And if you do not posess a “fit” body, do not even dare to go to the interview. Especially for the ladies, if you thought that getting your health and tam card will get you a serving gig; you better think again and save up for a boob job, fake eyelashes, acrylic nails, and tons of make up. It is ridiculous, servers that start to get older have to get a job at a cheap diner because there is no way they are getting a “hot” job on the Las Vegas strip.
    Steve, love your page, you are a genius! Everyone should have a serving job at least once so they realize how this twisted world is. Hopefully you can make a trip out here to visit! You need to see all the characters in Sin City, it will inspire some of your columns

  36. Its also a to reward their customers for letting their friends know about them..Whats a Swarm Badge?. He emailed Foursquare and told them what he wanted to do and they supported him in implementing this promotion even tweeting about it.

  37. I Think your book and blog are awesome for us servers/waiters. We have to have so much patience to deal with the jerks we have to serve. Not to mention regular guest that come in just to try to get something free, and make the server go thru hell. I probably got so many stories to add to your blog. good writing!The Bistro really missed out!

  38. Here’s another service job for you: house and office cleaning. If a stain has been on your floor for the past 8 years, guess what? The gal you hired just yesterday most likely will not be able to clean it up with just some cheap crappy generic cleaner, worn out rags and elbow grease. If you hired them to clean your large office for a set price, do not, not, not re-negotiate the price when they show up. Do not have them clean in a room where you are “oblivious” to the fact that your un-treated pet has left fleas all over the carpet. Just loved those bites when I was treating them myself. The plain nuts ones were bad enough, had to put up with cancelled checks after spending an entire day cleaning a rat-filthy house because they weren’t happy enough and didn’t have enough money to sue them in small-claims court.

  39. Pingback: The Definitive Guide To What’s Going On With Tipping Servers | Girl SMASH

  40. Is it legal in the state of NC for them to chage the serevers a $3 Breakage fee every shift? And, is it legal for them to charge us for Credit Card usage?

  41. I have a question. I’m a server. And a resturant I work at is a pool house. The thing is the runners get the same cut as the waiters and the bussers get half a cut. We also still have to tip the bar 10%. Is it illegal to basically use our tips to pay the staff. I don’t mind tipping out but it’s my style of service that makes those tips. Having to split them like this, makes it so I make very little money.

    • The last place I worked I tipped the bus 20% of tips. When we had a runner, which was rare, he/she got a full cut – but we only had one runner. Small restaurant. The owner also paid the bus more than minimum wage. I wonder if the owner of your establishment pays the sub-minimum to his bus. A Half cut sounds like a lot.

      Yeah, I can see the bar getting 10%. We tipped our guy 5% and he was getting tips hand over fist from the boozers.

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