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National Waiters and Waitress Day: To tip or not to tip?

May 21 recognizes the millions of hard-working men and women who work in restaurants across America. It’s National Waiters and Waitress Day in the U.S.A.

National Waiters and Waitress Day:  To tip or not to tip?
Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

Waiters and Waitresses

More than 2 million people were waiters or waitresses in 2012. Waiters and waitresses work on their feet most of the day and often carry heavy loads in a fast-paced environment. While many enjoy their work, being a waiter or waitress was considered one of the worst jobs to have in 2012 (it ranked 6 out of the 10 worst jobs in America) according to Career Cast.


Waiters/waitresses typically work long hours for little pay. Many depend on the combination of an hourly wage and customer tips. Should we tip wait staff for poor service? If the food is not up to par, is that the fault of the waiter? Some believe waiters and waitresses should be paid like the rest of us and not have to depend on customer tips.

While President Obama and some in Congress are working hard to raise the minimum wage, the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, according to the United States Department of Labor. And according to Mother Jones, American companies pay tipped workers “pittance” because customers are expected to tip well enough to surpass at least the federal minimum wage…and if they don’t, companies have to chip in the rest.” But that doesn’t always happen. Some restaurants do not make up the difference. According to nearly 9,000 restaurant industry investigations conducted by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor between 2010 and 2012, over 80 percent had “some kind of wage and hour violation.”

If you or someone you know is a waiter or waitress, know your rights!

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