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Thursday, June 28, 2007


The new state minimum wage law Missouri voters approved last year applies to tipped workers, a Cole County Judge ruled on May 29. A group of restaurant owners sued over the law, seeking a declaration that they weren’t obligated to raise wages for tipped employees to $3.25 an hour from the federal minimum of $2.13 an hour.

With 76 percent support, Missouri voters in November approved raising the standard state minimum wage to $6.50 an hour from $5.15 an hour. Supporters said the new law entitled tipped workers to a base pay of half the standard minimum wage.

After the new law took effect on Jan. 1, the Missouri Department of Labor advised employers that they didn’t have to increase base pay for workers who earned at least $6.50 an hour through wages and tips combined. Gov. Matt Blunt overruled the department on March 14.

In her decision, Judge Patricia Joyce said the law granted tipped workers a raise. However, she said employees who were denied increases have to individually sue their employers to recover back wages owed from Jan. 1 to March 14. Employers can avoid such suits by voluntarily paying the back wages.

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