For members of the service industry, tips can be critical to fair compensation. Even if an employee is already paid minimum wage, he or she still has the right to collect tips and to take action against an employer that tries to take control or confiscate tip income. In a recent class action case, Whole Foods is being sued by employees who claim that the company stole their tips. According to the New York Observer, the Whole Foods management has been illegally holding onto worker tips violating state labor laws. The class action involves 40 other Whole Foods delivery employees who are asking for hundreds of dollars of missing tips.
In this case, the customer receipt did not give consumers the opportunity to add gratuity, so shoppers automatically assumed that the $5-10 delivery fee was being delivered directly to service employees. In fact, the company was pocketing this delivery fee. Many shoppers also disclosed that they believed that the delivery charge was a gratuity, not a fee for the store. Tipping law can be complicated so it is important to know your rights. Our California employment law attorneys are dedicated to raising awareness to protect the rights and interests of workers. Here are some facts you may not know about California tipping law:
Gratuity is the property of the employee. Under California law, employers are prohibited from collecting, taking, receiving or redistributing a tip left for an employee. Tips are the property of the employee and can be defined to include any tip, gratuity, or money left for an employee over and above the amount left for services.
Employers may not use tips to credit against minimum wage requirements. California law prohibits employers from crediting any gratuity to compensate against wages. In California, all employers must pay full minimum wage, regardless of how much an employee earns in tips.
Mandatory tip pooling and sharing. Under California law, employers can create mandatory tip pooling policies if tips are fairly redistributed. Employers may also be required to tip share with the kitchen staff. While you may be forced to tip with back or front of house, kitchen or bar staff, employers cannot force you to tip share with any members of the management. No one with any authority to hire or fire server can share tips.
Employers cannot deduct credit card costs from gratuities. You may already know that credit card companies charge a fee for every transaction. This percentage also applies to any gratuity charged. California law also prevents employers from taking deductions to compensate for credit card tips. Employers must pay the full amount of gratuity that the customer wrote on a credit card slip.
Wage and hour law, including tip-sharing and tip law can be complicated in California. If you believe that your rights were violated or you were prevented from collecting your rightful tips, consider working with an experienced employment law attorney. California law does give employees significant protections involving wage and hour law. Employees may also file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s office or can recover wrongfully withheld tips with the assistance of an experienced employment attorney.
Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 714-937-2020.
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