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I think more accurately, a business owner cannot pay less than minimum wage because actual compensation tips are coming, you MAY pay less than minimum wage IF wages + tips is at least minimum wage, otherwise employer is on the hook for the non-tipped amount.

However, even in the jurisdictions that don't have a minimum wage exemption for tipped positions (such as Oregon), you're still socially expected to tip.

At this point, the only thing tips are good for is letting business owners pay staff less than what they would normally have to, which the staff doesn't mind because they get to evade taxes on cash tips, and they sometimes make more money than if they were to be paid a wage and didn't get tipped. The customer gets the raw end of the deal as they frequently overpay.

> I think more accurately, a business owner cannot pay less than minimum wage

In food service, never say “cannot”!

I always hear this. It's blame shifting. Food service workers are the first to foist the burden, responsibility on to the customer for their inability or lack of willingness to protest / report their employers illegal behavior.

It's not my role as a customer to support workers at a paper mill with lax safety standards because the workers won't go to OSHA, why should it be my role to ensure you have a livable wage because you won't go to to L&I to report wage theft/other practices?

I’m in a left leaning jurisdiction, and the labour board doesn’t do a very good job of investigating these complaints.

And if they do award you back-pay, it may still be on you to follow through on collecting.

There is big structural barriers for the system to work in favour of employees that aren’t being paid properly.

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