TIP-POOLING: What flies?
REMEMBER: Your tips are YOUR property.
With very few exceptions, your employer is not allowed to take your tips,
dictate what you do with your tips, or otherwise retain any control
over the tips you earn.
Is my employer
allowed to require me to pool tips?
Under the FLSA, all tips are the property of the employee who receives them.
An employer may not require you to tip out employees unless they are employees who customarily and regularly receive tips. This means that your employer can require you pool tips with (or "tip out") bussers, bartenders, and other servers...
YOUR EMPLOYER MAY NOT:
Require you to tip out cooks, dishwashers, or other employees who do not customarily and regularly receive tips;
Require you to contribute ANY portion of your tips to managers or to the house;
Deduct any amount from your tips for any other reason other than a valid tip-pooling arrangement (which may only consist of other tipped employees - servers, bartenders, barbacks, bussers, and the like).
An employer who violates these provisions is legally required to pay back all tips improperly withheld from you, and, in addition, must pay you back pay for the full minimum wage because your employer was not entitled to take the tip credit in the first place.
(your employer may require you to share your tips with the following):
(your employer MAY NOT require you to share your tips with the following):
I think my employer required me to participate in improper tip-outs.
What can I do?
The FLSA's remedies provisions contain strict prohibitions to discourage illegal tip-pooling arrangements. An employer found to have participated in such an arrangement must pay back to you all tips contributed to the pool and must pay you back pay for the full minimum wage (rather than the lower, tip-credit, server rate) for all time you spent working and having to contribute to your employer's tip pool.
The FLSA allows you to recover:
Back Pay (unpaid wages owed to you),
An Additional Equal Amount of Back Pay (thus, totaling TWICE the amount of unpaid wages owed to you),
Attorney Fees & Costs incurred in pursuing your unpaid wages.
If you believe you have a claim, speak with an attorney immediately regarding your rights and options.
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