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Thursday, April 19, 2007


Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce on April 10 ordered the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to stay out of a dispute over whether tipped workers whose employers didn’t initially honor the state’s new minimum wage law are entitled to back wages. Joyce’s temporary restraining order instructs the department not to take a position on whether back wages are owed. A hearing the matter is set for next month.
Missouri voters in November passed Proposition B to boost the state’s standard minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.50 an hour and the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.13 to $3.25 an hour. When the law took effect on Jan. 1, however, the labor department advised employers they didn’t have to give raises to tipped workers, so long as those workers earned at least $6.50 an hour through wages and tips combined.
Gov. Matt Blunt overruled the department on March 14 and ordered it to advise employers to pay tipped workers $3.25 and hour. A group of restaurant owners sued the department last month seeking a court judgment that the proper minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 an hour or, in the alternative, an exemption from paying back wages covering the period of Jan. 1 to March 14.

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