Bartender mom goes viral after sharing $9 paycheck

A 20-year-old mom is going viral on social media after showing the deflating paycheck she received for 70 hours of work.

Aaliyah Cortez, who works as a bartender and waitress in Austin, Texas, shared a breakdown of her earnings to TikTok late last month.

“So this is why you should always tip your bartenders, servers [or] anyone who waits on you,” Cortez says in her video, which has been viewed more than 800,000 times.

Cortez goes on to break down her hourly wage, which is just $2.13. After subtracting taxes, social security and medicare, her total earnings for a 70-hour period come out to a meager $9.

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The 20-year-old, who also has a young son, told BuzzFeed she decided to make the video after receiving several paychecks that ranged between $4 and $11 for more 70-plus hours of work. Her plan for the clip was to show just how crucial tips are for service industry workers.

“There are laws set up that allow tipped employees to be paid under the federal minimum wage, which makes us rely on the customer to pay our wages,” Cortez told BuzzFeed.

While the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, states are only required to pay a “cash wage” — the type of wage that tip-based workers like Cortez receive — of $2.13. There are several states that have set higher cash wage minimums, but Texas is not one of them.

“It’s not right that we have to do this, but I wanted to shed some light on the issue and inform the public about the importance of tipping,” Cortez told BuzzFeed. “I just wish we were all being paid adequately and consistently.”

Cortez’s video earned thousands of comments since it was originally posted, with many TikTok users sharing their incredulity over the laws that allow employers to pay their workers so little.

“No ma’am, your bar/restaurant is getting free labor and that’s not ok,” one user wrote.

“If you don’t tip then stay home,” another added.

Meanwhile, some users criticized Cortez, saying she was blaming customers for a problem that ultimately falls on a restaurant and its severs.

“The problem is that restaurants have their customers pay their workers so they don’t have to,” one user argued.

“Tips should not be expected,” another added.

But many commenters were quick to defend Cortez from those claims, stating that many people don’t understand the struggle of relying on tips.

“If you haven’t waited tables, you don’t get to have an opinion,” one user wrote.

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