Ninth Circuit Creates More Uncertainty in 80/20 Rule for Tipped Workers

Executive Summary: On February 16, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted en banc review of Marsh v. J. Alexander’s LLC, 869 F.3d 1108, creating a new layer of uncertainty for hospitality employers. The previous decision by a three-judge panel on September 6, 2017, had rejected what is commonly called the “80/20 rule,” which states that hospitality employers may not reduce a tip-earning employee’s hourly pay below the minimum wage when that employee spends more than 20 percent of his or her workweek on non-tip-earning tasks. The case will now be reconsidered by a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit, with oral argument scheduled for the week of March 19, 2018. The grant of en banc review suggests an intention to reconsider the panel’s prior holding or analysis.

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