Waitress "Rage Quits" Her Job After Tip Theft and Uncovers a Conspiracy

A waitress "rage quit" her job after she learned that her boss was stealing her and other employees’ tips. She then uncovered a conspiracy.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jun. 8 2023, Published 1:44 p.m. ET

One of America’s biggest debates in 2023 is our tipping culture. In Europe and other countries, tipping servers isn’t always expected, or at times even allowed, but in the good ole U.S., it’s essential to tip workers. Having been a server and bartender myself, I’m intimately familiar with the ins and outs of tipping, and I have to say before getting into this story — tip your waitstaff! They are working hard!

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But for every hour of physical and emotional labor they put into their jobs, there is always a restaurant owner looking to exploit their hard work. So when @maiadobbs shared her story on TikTok, commenters were quick to come to her defense and encourage her to stand up to her superiors. She finally “rage quit” her job at a dumpling shop after learning that her wages were switching from tipped to minimum wage, but the story unravels into chaos.

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A waitress shared how and why she 'rage quit' job.

On May 9, 2023, Maia took to TikTok to share her frustration with her waitressing gig at a dumpling shop in Connecticut. We don’t know exactly which shop it was, but when we figure it out, we are coming for them. Maia shared with her followers, “I just rage quit my waitressing job. They were going to switch my pay from tips to minimum wage and not tell me.”

Um, what?! Girl, you need to get any shifts in pay salary in writing, especially in Connecticut! This is already sketchy. “The only way I found out is because somebody else told me,” she continued. “Then they offered my male coworker who started working the same time as me $18.50 per hour.” For reference, the minimum wage in Connecticut is $15 per hour, so our girl was offered $3.50 less than her male coworker. I thought we were past third-wave feminism!

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Maia eventually talked her way up to $17.50 per hour (which is still way less than her male coworker and is grounds for discrimination) because that’s comparable to her pay with tips. But when she looks back at her paychecks to compare, she realizes that the restaurant had been claiming she was on salary the entire time, and there weren’t even any hours listed. Yes, it gets worse.

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When talking to the cook, Maia learned that they make tips in the kitchen, which is illegal. Tips should only go to customer-facing workers and not the back-of-house, especially not without the server’s knowledge. Then a tiff with the restaurant’s owner led to her fateful “I quit!” moment. The owner came in to “work,” which she apparently never does, and insisted on putting the tip jar out even though Maia is no longer making tips.

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The owner flat-out admits to using money from the tip jar to cover restaurant costs and make money, so despite not paying her servers tips, she’s still encouraging customers to pay tips. If I were a customer there and found out my tip wasn’t going to the server, I’d be more than furious. I’m already paying for the food, and now the owner is tricking me into paying more?! No, thank you. Don’t worry, y’all, because Maia is looking out.

On her way out of the restaurant, she told every table what the owner was up to. Yes, Maia is our TikTok waitress vigilante now. And she dives even deeper.

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Now, the restaurant where Maia worked is under investigation.

Maia shared at the end of the video that the restaurant is “currently being sued by their former employees for stealing tips and they’re being investigated by the IRS.” Commenters quickly encouraged Maia to join that lawsuit, which we hope she’s doing. But beyond that, Maia wanted to make sure the State and Federal Departments of Labor knew exactly what was up, so she called the Connecticut Department of Labor.

Anyone who knocks Gen Z should watch out because they aren't afraid of bureaucracy.

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On May 31, Maia gave us an update. When she called the Connecticut Department of Labor without getting ahold of anyone, she finally got a sketchy call back from a blocked number that insisted they were with the DOL. The person claiming to be the DOL asked to verify Maia’s address to send her a check for her stolen wages but also told her that it’s totally legal for employers to keep employees’ tips. Um, no it’s not.

Maia then went to her contact at the Federal DOL, who said that her call sounded super sketchy and that that was not correct. So, she went to the police to figure out what was really going on. The CDOL quotes Public Act No. 19 as the reason for saying that employees can keep tips, but despite complicated jargon, the act doesn’t say that anywhere.

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All it says is that with the 2019 minimum wage increase, employees’ tips must meet the untipped minimum wage or the employer must cover the difference between a tipped and untipped minimum wage.

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But Maia is working hard to make things right for herself and her fellow workers. She read the Fair Labor Standards Act and found, "Any employer may not keep tips received by its employees for any purpose including allowing managers and supervisors to keep any portion of an employee’s tips, regardless of whether the employee takes a tip credit …" It’s clear as day.

Maia, you may not be a lawyer yet, but I think we’ve found a new career for you! Leave that dumpling shop behind because not only have you figured out that they were straight-up breaking federal law, but you’ve also uncovered a deeper conspiracy in the CDOL. Meet Maia, singer/ex-waitress/lawyer/private investigator — a true Renaissance woman!

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