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New minimum wage in Missouri sparks questions about tips

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Since Missouri's minimum wage increased, there's disagreement over how much restaurants and other employers should pay workers who make tips.

Missouri's Department of Labor contends employers only have to pay the difference between what workers make in tips, and the new $6.50 minimum wage. So, if a worker brings in $6.50 in tips for an hour the employer is off the hook.

But Jim Kottmeyer with the group 'Save Our Tips' says that ignores state law: "The state regulations have clearly said that tipped employees covered under state law are to receive 50% of the minimum wage.

"And now the Blunt administration has said hey we're going to set aside precedent that has existed for 15 years and we're just going to read something into the law that just doesn't exist."

Save Our Tips, the Brennan Center for Justice and six law professors sent a memo to the state laying out their concerns.

But Tammy Cavender, with the Department of Labor, disagrees.

"If the employee earns $6.50 hour in tips the employer is not required to pay any wage," she said Thursday. "On the other hand, if the tipped employee only earns one dollar in tips that hour, the employer is required to pay $5.50."