The high court refused to hear an appeal from Applebee's International, which wanted to overturn a lower court ruling.
Restaurants consider tips part of some employees' salary to get the pay up to the minimum wage. But if a worker spends 20 percent of the time doing general maintenance and preparation work, they currently get full minimum wage.
Gerald Fast and more than 5,500 other current and former servers and bartenders at Applebee's restaurants sued, saying that opening and closing restaurants, as well as cleaning and stocking, consumed significant work time and Applebee's should pay them additional wages.
The lower courts refused to dismiss the complaint and the high court agreed.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)