California Restaurants to End No Tipping Policy

About a year ago, the owners of several high-end restaurants in California and New York decided that they would institute a strict “no tipping” policy for all restaurant employees and instead pay the servers and other workers a higher hourly wage.

booze-1481628This no tipping model was created as a way to help workers earning what is often referred to as a living wage.  The model was based on the typical plan in which restaurant workers get paid.  Employees earn a very low minimum wage (typically less than $3 per hour) and then earn tips on top of that hourly wage.  If the server does not earn enough in tips to equal the standard minimum wage for workers who do not earn tips as a substantial part of their wages, then the employer pays the difference.

The theory is that that the customers will not be allowed or required to tip their servers for their services and will instead be paid a living wage.  In exchange for not having to tip the wait staff, and so the restaurant owners don’t have to spend their own money to pay the servers a higher wage, the customers will be paying a higher price for their meals.

While this may work in the many areas of the country where servers are paid tips based minimum wage of less than $3 per hour, according to recent news feature from Hot Air, efforts by high-end restaurants in Los Angeles to use this no tipping concept are not going so well.

There are two problems with not allowing servers to earn tips while working at a high-end restaurant, or any restaurant for that matter. The first problem is that a server at an expensive Los Angeles area restaurant will earn substantially more money from a lower minimum wage plus tips than they will from being paid a higher hourly wage and not earning tips.

While it is typically hard to get a job waiting tables at the finest restaurants in Los Angeles, workers only want to work there if they can make a lot money in tips.  This is especially true since luxury restaurants typically have a much slower table turn time, meaning they wait on less guests, but make more money from each table.  If there are not tips, the table turn time would not have any effect on the amount of money a server earns.  What is happening is that servers are applying to work at these restaurants, getting the experience of fine dining on their resumes, and then going to another high-end restaurant that actually pays tips.

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys have seen in far too many cases, regardless of the method in which employees are paid, there are a lot of restaurant owners who will take advantage of their employees and not pay them the wages and benefits to which they are entitled.   If you are working for an employer that is not paying you the wages to which you are entitled, you should contact a Los Angeles employment attorney to see if you have a valid claim.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.

Additional Resources:

California restaurants abandon no-tipping policy under higher minimum wage, May 16, 2016, Hot Air, By Jazz Shaw

California Considering New Regulations to Prevent Workplace Violence Among Healthcare Workers, Jan. 11, 2016, Orange County Gender Bias Lawyer Blog

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