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Published August 01 2010

ND Political Notebook: Reader thinks waitresses deserve more


Why is it that everyone in government – state and federal – wants the waitresses and service workers to work for less than minimum wage because they make tips? What about the other people like cab drivers, barbers, hairdressers, etc.? Why aren’t they ever included in that line of thinking?

Just explain why they are singled out on this unfair work-for-less thing.

Nels Petersen

Mayville, N.D.

Thanks for writing, Nels! I asked Labor Commissioner Lisa Fair McEvers to provide an answer. Here’s what she had to say:

“No one in government wants waitresses and other service workers to make less than the minimum wage. Tipped employees must always receive at least the full minimum wage when the base wage plus tips are added together. If a tipped employee does not make at least minimum wage for time worked when tips are included, the employer must make up the difference, guaranteeing the minimum wage.

You also inquired about other professions with which tips are often associated. The employers in these professions could also utilize the tip credit if the employee qualifies as a tipped employee and the employer meets all the requirements. Whether an employer chooses to utilize the tip credit depends on several factors, including what the custom or practice is of that industry, what the market for employees will bear, and whether it is cost effective (given the increased paperwork and record keeping requirements).”

In his letter, Petersen also said he doesn’t believe waitresses should have to share tips with other waitresses. The North Dakota Minimum Wage and Work Conditions Order states the following:

“A vote of tipped employees to allow tip pooling must be taken, and 50 percent plus one of all tipped employees must approve it. The employer must maintain a written record of each vote on tip pooling, including names of employees voting and the vote totals.”

More information about these topics can be found at www.nd.gov/labor/laws and by clicking on N.D. Administrative Code Chapter 46-02-07.

Do you have a question for a state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.

com (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman, c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.

Busy week at Capitol

Three legislative committee meetings are scheduled this week in the Capitol.

Industry, Business and Labor meets at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Roughrider Room. The major topic will be federal health care reform and its impact on the state.

Public Safety and Transportation meets at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Roughrider Room. The committee will hear about the Department of Transportation’s 2011-13 budget request and activities of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association.

Legislators will also discuss a bill draft to appropriate funding from the permanent oil tax trust fund for transportation projects. They will also hear about the funding needed to fully reimburse ambulance services for the costs of providing services to Medicaid patients.

The Health and Human Services Committee meets at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Roughrider Room. Legislators will hear how the federal health care reform legislation affects child support collections and learn the effect of the legislation on the Medicaid program.

Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.