Working in a job that allows you to earn gratuities from customers can be a much better source of income than a guaranteed hourly rate of pay. Restaurant servers, baristas and others in positions that often generate tips expect that they can keep that money as part of their pay.
Unfortunately, some employers have a practice of requiring that their workers pool their tips. Tip pooling might involve putting every tipped dollar into a jar and then evenly dividing it among workers at the end of a shift. Everyone receives an equal portion of the total tips.
The other form of tip pooling involves tipping out workers that don’t directly interact with customers. Everyone from busboys to dishwashers may have a claim to a share of tips based on the company’s policy. Is tip pooling against the law in New York?
Tip pooling can be a way for employers to hide illegal activity
On its own, tip pooling is not a violation of wage laws. However, it is often a thinly veiled attempt by an employer or manager to violate other state laws that apply to tips earned on the job.
Managers and business owners typically cannot demand that their tipped workers share their tips with them. If a manager includes themselves in the people getting a split of the total tips at night, that could well be a violation of their workers’ rights to fair wages and to retain their own gratuities.
The better you understand your wage rights under both federal and New York laws, the easier it will be to fight back when a company or an individual boss violates them.