Tipped workers are not governed by the same minimum wage as other workers in Ohio. They can be paid half. However, they should make at least full minimum wage at all times.
Seem confusing? It's a common cause of contention between workers and employees, often because people don't fully understand how the wage law works.
As of 2018, the minimum wage for the state is $8.30 per hour. That's higher than the federal wage of $7.25. However, tipped workers can get paid just $4.15 per hour. That's half the standard state wage and well under even the lower federal wage.
However, that's just the minimum cash wage. There is also a maximum tip credit that has to be paid out. That is also $4.15.
What it means is that employers are obligated to pay enough that the worker still makes minimum wage. If the average of the tips and the base wage ($4.15) is still under $8.30, then the employer has to make up that difference and pay enough that the worker gets the full $8.30.
For instance, perhaps an employee makes just $2.15 per hour in average tips on a slow day. That means the employee earned just $6.30 per hour with the base pay and the tip. The employer then has to pay another $2.00 per hour to even things out.
However, if the employee averaged $10.00 per hour in tips, then the employer still has to pay the $4.15 per hour and no more. The employee averages a grand total of $14.15 per day. No matter how much the employee makes in tips, the employer is still obligated to make that half payment.
It's absolutely critical for employers and employees to be on the same page and understand their rights under wage and hour laws.
Source: DOL.gov, "Minimum Wages for Tipped Employees," accessed Feb. 01, 2018