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Restaurant workers, owners speak out ahead of hearing on proposed tipped wage law

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Restaurant and bar owners are heading to Hartford on Thursday for clarification on the law regarding tipped workers’ wages.

Things are apparently unclear about what exactly is the minimum wage is for who when it comes to restaurant and bar workers.

Governor Ned Lamont vetoed a bill designed to clear this up back in June. Lawmakers have been working on a solution ever since.

What the State Labor Department has been telling restaurant and bar owners is that the minimum wage for waiters is $6 and change and for bartenders $8 and change as long as those workers spend at least 80% of their workday doing work that earns them tips.

Otherwise, the statewide $11/hour minimum wage applies. There are some 20 lawsuits about tipped wages going on in Connecticut right now, naming some 100 restaurants. One solution is to limit the legal liability for owners in lawsuits while the state also needs to clarify the rules.

“And try to equitably deal with this issue, which, I think, is based, in some cases, on improper guidance from the State Labor Department that the restaurant owners, in good faith, followed,” Sen. Martin Looney (D) Senate President Pro Tem.

“If this bill isn’t fixed it’s actually going to potentially cause all of wait staff to lost their tips and be paid minimum wage,” State Rep. Vincent Candelora (R) Dep. Minority Leader.

Both sides are holding press conferences before Thursday’s public hearing. The owners are touting the work they’ve done cooperating with lawmakers on drafting a new bill. Workers plan to take things a step further, saying they will have a lawyer talking about the myths about tipped work, and workers who experienced “wage theft.”

Those are both happening at 9:15 a.m. Thursday. News 8 cameras will be there to see it all.

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