Waitress Who Comes Home With $0 Paycheck Every Week Stirs Outrage

The internet has collectively stepped up to call out a college bar in which a young woman's paycheck amounted to $0 every week.

The now-viral post has garnered 6,600 upvotes and 500 comments, and it is titled, "My daughter got a job in a bar and her paychecks are zero every week. WTF." Redditor @7dayweekendgirl shared the post to the subreddit "Antiwork," and it has been turning heads ever since.

Under the law, tips are wages, and they are the property of the employee only. There isn't a legal scenario where the employer receives part of an employee's tips, as that's wage theft, according to Work Force.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, an employer is required to pay an employee $2.13 an hour in wages on a basis that what the employee is paid in tips will come out to the federal minimum wage of $7.25. But if the worker makes less than the federal minimum wage along with the added $2.13, a tip credit must be paid to "fill the gap" to equal the federal requirement.

Employees should be aware that abuses by employers do happen. Tax evasion is the underpayment or nonpayment of taxes, and it's illegal. According to Nolo.com, one of the ways businesses try to escape paying employment tax is to falsify payroll tax returns.

The original poster's (OP) daughter, who is 22, has a weekend job working as a cocktail waitress at a "cash-only bar" in Boston, and she mentioned to her mom that her paychecks are "zero every week." The young woman's mom looked at the pay stub and saw that the bar declares the woman's tips at 20 percent of her sales no matter how much she actually gets in her tips.

"So, after federal and state taxes are subtracted, she makes nothing hourly from the bar. Nothing," the OP said. "She says that she was told this is how it is always done. She brings home about $100 [to] $120 in tips per shift, and her sales are often more than $1,000. So, the bar is saying she makes $200 in tips per $1,000 in sales, but she makes only about half that."

The OP was a bartender "many years ago," and she was able to declare how much her tips were, not the bar management. She asked if that is not how it works now, and also if it was "normal" or "legal."

Waitress holding menu
A waitress who comes home with a $0 paycheck every week has stirred outrage. Here, a waitress holds a menu as she smiles in front of a crowded table. MONKEYBUSINESSIMAGES/GETTY

The woman's daughter also mentioned that they don't pool tips, and they're "encouraged to tip out the bartenders and bussers."

Numerous comments poured in on the viral post, and many people don't think what the bar is doing is legal. "She's paying taxes on [the] money she's not making," a Redditor said. "And the bar isn't compensating when she doesn't make enough. They need to be reported." Another person thought it "sounds like your daughter is being robbed."

A number of people think the business needs to be reported for their practices as well. "That's not legal," a user said. "I'd report them to the IRS and labor board."

Another user pointed out that "even in the least civilized states," the worker "has to be paid minimum wage [of] $7.25. There is a tipped wage rate [of] $2.13, but it has to add up to (with tips) to at least $7.25. She's being robbed."

Some people have worked in similar predicaments before. "I worked at a bar that did this," a user said. "They eventually got audited and had to pay me the thousands of dollars that they shorted me. It's not legal."

Tax evasion was also brought up, and a Redditor thinks the woman should "report" the bar "for tax evasion," adding, "They're not paying taxes on roughly eight percent of their profits every week off every single worker."

Another Reddit user says it sounds like the bar is "over-reporting her wages to reduce their tax bill. I would report them to the IRS and see if your daughter can cash in on the whistle-blower policy."

However, some say the practice is commonplace. "This is common, I was a server for years and typically didn't get a check as my tips garnered more tax than my small hourly wage could be deducted," a user said.

But another user weighed in on a similar comment, saying, "The check ending up at zero because it was all eaten up by FICA and other (legitimate) deductions is legal. What is not legal is over (or under) reporting the server's actual income."

Yet another Redditor thinks the woman "has to pay taxes on everything claimed. If she (or her manager) is claiming more than she got, she is paying taxes on [the] money she never received. This is tax fraud."

Newsweek reached out to Redditor @7weekendgirl for comment.

This isn't the only viral moment involving work-related situations. A New Zealander was baffled by the United States' work culture. A company's rejection letter was branded as condescending online. In addition, a recruiter was mocked for her anger at a job prospect's current salary.