What Are the Laws around Tip Pooling in Los Angeles?
The California Labor Code defines tips as any gratuity or money given directly to or left to an employee by a customer for services rendered and is not part of the amount the customer was required to pay for services, goods, foods, or drink. The money an employee receives as a gratuity belongs to the employee and an employer may not withhold or take any portion of it. However, suppose an establishment requires that tips be shared with other employees. In that case, this is considered tip pooling and is the exception, just as long as none of the money goes to the business, business owner, or any managers.
In addition, tips that are “pooled” or shared amongst employees must be distributed equally in a fair system. While the majority of the gratuity must go to the employee who received the tip, other employees can receive a share, whether it is a dollar or percentage amount.
If you have questions regarding tip pooling, contact our tip pooling attorneys at Blackstone Law Firm. We treat our clients like family and want to make sure you are being treated fairly too.
What Happens If My Employer Is Charging a Service Charge?
It is common for some restaurants to charge patrons a ‘service charge’ for large parties of people or catering events. In these cases, this charge is between the establishment and the patron and does not constitute a gratuity or compensation to the employee. A restaurant can choose to give an employee a portion of the charge, but that is up to the establishment.
In contrast, if an employer is charging a service fee and the employee is required to pay a portion of it from their tips, this would be against California law. Contact a tip pooling lawyer if your employer is forcing you to pay a service charge from your tips.
Can an Employer Require Tip Pooling in Los Angeles?
In California, employers can have mandatory tip pooling policies where tips are shared amongst employees. While tips are technically the sole property of the server who received them, an establishment can require sharing a portion of the tip with other employees such as bussers, cooks, and hosts. However, the employer cannot deduct any portion of the tips from their wages, as tips are separate from the wages someone has earned from hours worked.
The state law provides protections for tipped workers in California. It ensures that money that a patron voluntarily gives to an employee is kept in their pockets and not in the hands of an employer. If your employer is bullying you about your tips, contact us, and we can help you fight for your rights.
What Are the Consequences If an Employer Keeps My Tips?
If you believe your employer is illegally interfering in tip pooling or is keeping any portion of your tips, you can file a complaint with the Labor Commission, which will trigger an investigation. Additionally, employees can seek legal remedies through the following:
- Filing a lawsuit under the Private Attorneys General Act
- Filing a lawsuit under California’s Unfair Competition Law
- Filing a lawsuit against the employer for conversion
- Filing a lawsuit for breach of contract.
An experienced tip pooling attorney may be able to help employees recover damages due to the illegal activities of their employer. While going up against your employer is intimidating, California laws are created to protect employees, and those who violate those laws should be held liable.
Seek an Experienced Tip Pooling Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA
The unpaid wages lawyers at Blackstone Law Firm are value-driven and believe in dedicated and honest legal representation. Our goal is to change your impression of the legal process and deliver aggressive representation with compassion and integrity. We are committed to fighting on your behalf and making sure the law is enforced, because no one is above the law.
If you have been wronged by your employer and need legal help, contact our office at (310) 956-4054 or fill out our contact form. We offer free consultations and will work with you regardless of your financial situation.