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Many servers consider tip pooling a form of wage theft

Serving patrons in a restaurant is a demanding job. It may be one of the few jobs where people’s pay depends on how personable and pleasant they are. This is because many Tennessee servers are paid less than minimum wage under the assumption that their tips will equal the minimum. A good server may make considerably more than standard wages, making the job attractive to those with outgoing personalities. However, the Department of Labor may be proposing a change to the rules, which some consider a form of wage theft.

In many cases, servers who have great people skills and who strive to make their customers happy can take home a pocketful of tips in addition to gaining loyalty among restaurant patrons. In the past, some restaurant owners have instituted tip pools, which forced servers to surrender their tips to be redistributed among the wait staff and back-of-house workers, like bus staff. The problem many restaurant workers had with tip pooling is that establishment owners used server tips to avoid paying minimum wage to cooks, dishwashers and bus staff.

This practice was banned under President Barack Obama, and the DOL ruled that tips belong to the server, not the restaurant, even if the restaurant paid minimum wage or higher to the server. However, there are indications that the DOL will begin accepting tip pooling again. Additionally, if the DOL rescinds its ban on tip pooling, restaurant owners may assume the tips belong to them, allowing them to skim a portion for themselves or to keep the tips altogether.

Apparently, one in five restaurant employees says their employers are already stealing their tips. This is only one way in which an employer may commit wage theft. Those in Tennessee who are victims of unjust pay, unpaid overtime or other illegal behaviors have the right to seek legal advice for righting this wrong.

Source: CBS News, “Who owns a tip? Trump may shift it to restaurant owners“, Aimee Picchi, Oct. 31, 2017