Congress recently passed a bipartisan bill that details how the U.S federal government will spend $1.3 trillion. Included in the bill, was allocations for the tips that customers leave at restaurants, nail salons and other businesses.
This new legislation clearly states that tips belong to the employees who receive them, and not their employer. This means that managers, supervisors, and business owners can’t take tips away from their employees.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Pushed hard for language about employee tipping to be included in the omnibus spending bill. Speaking about the bill, Murray said, “For the millions of workers who rely on their tips to pay their bills and support their families — most of whom are women — this change comes as a sigh of relief.”
However, the idea that tips belong to workers had been called into question because of a proposed rule from the Trump administration's Labor Department. The proposal wanted to encourage sharing of tips between cooks and dishwashers. However, critics who opposed the administration’s proposal argued that this would have enabled business owners to pocket the money for themselves. Over 375,000 people responded when the Labor Department asked for public comments about the proposal.
According to Murray, “Workers across the country organized and made their voices heard… Those workers sent the Trump administration a message.”
Although many restaurant servers already have to share some of their tips with hostesses and busboys, restaurant owners have not been able to force this type of tip pooling with "back of the house" workers. Some restaurant owners claim that this creates an unfair wage gap between the tipped employees who work in the "front of the house" and the lower-paid employees who work in the kitchen.
The new spending bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow mandatory tip sharing with back-of-the-house employees. But the bill also has specific protections to keep employers from dipping into tips or using that money to pay their managers and supervisors.
Judi Conti, the government affairs director for the National Employment Law Project, says “This is a huge victory for tipped workers everywhere… It makes clear that tips are the property of workers and under no circumstances can employers keep them."
Conti also points out that this new legislation allows for broader tip pools, only when all of the workers in the pool are paid at least minimum wage. There are also more penalties for tip theft included in the measure, as well as the right for workers to sue their employer to recover any tips that have been stolen.
Are you a restaurant employee? Has your manger or supervisor been taking tip money away from you? We can help. At Polaris Law Group, our attorney Bill Marder has been fighting for the rights of workers for more than 20 years. He has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients and he is ready to help with your case. Our law firm is dedicated to helping you get the justice you deserve. Let us put our skills and resources to work for you today.
Contact our Hollister employment law attorney to set up your free consultation to discuss your case.