© 2024 Maine Public
1450 Lisbon St.
Lewiston, ME 04240

Maine Public Membership Department
63 Texas Ave.
Bangor, ME 04401

Portland Office
323 Marginal Way
Portland, ME 04101

Registered 501(c)(3) EIN: 22-3171529
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Scroll down to see all available streams.

Maine AG Joins Opposition To DOL Rule Targeting Tipped Workers' Pay


Maine's Attorney General Aaron Frey isjoining his counterparts in 17 other states and the District of Columbia in opposing a new U.S. Department of Labor rule that would change how tipped workers hourly pay is determined.

"I think a lot of people don't realize that servers and bartenders get paid a lower wage because tips are meant to make up for the other wages they would otherwise be making," says Mike Tipping.

Tipping is with the Maine People's Alliance, one of the groups that led the successful 2016 campaign to raise Maine's minimum wage.

Currently, employers are able to pay tipped employees less per hour if they're performing tipped work, such as waiting tables, for 80 percent of their work week.

The proposed rules would remove that requirement and replace it with more general guidance that the non-tipped work must be done at the same time as, or within a reasonable time immediately before or after, the tipped work.

Opponents of the rule say that it's confusing for employers and open to abuse. And Tipping says workers will pay the price.

"It would be a wage cut for thousands of servers and bartenders in Maine, and I'm very glad to see the AG taking a strong stand against it."

Tipping says that's because some servers spend much more than the remaining 20 percent of their work week doing non-tipped work. Thus, under the new rule, they'd be working for many hours a week for a lower wage. 

"For many servers I've spoken to, especially ones who work for national fast casual chains, they say they're forced to work for hours cleaning or doing kitchen prep," Tipping says. "This rule would codify that."

In their letter, the AGs say the Department of Labor didn't follow the law in the process of enacting the rule, and that it is contrary to the purpose of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The comment period for the new rule ends today.


Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.