In May of 2023, two prominent California Attorneys, Jeffrey Ranen and John Barber, announced their defection from Lewis
A Tip Pool Can’t Include Your Manager
If your employer uses a tip pool for you and other tipped employees, it simply means that you pool all tips earned during the shift together. When that shift is done, everyone who contributed splits up the money equally. Everyone still has to earn at least minimum wage, but this does mean that some workers who took in greater amounts of tips will get less, while those who did not pick up as much in tips will get more than they would have if they just kept their own tips.
For that reason, this can be a bit controversial at times, but it is legal. One stipulation, though, is that the money cannot provide compensation to supervisors, managers and owners. It can only go to lower-level employees.
The main reason for this is to keep an owner from creating a mandatory tip pool with the sole goal of cutting themselves in on a percentage of the tips, which they otherwise would not receive. Viewed this way, the tip pool would become a way to tax employees, forcing them to give personal tips to the business, and so it is illegal.
To remove any gray area, the law says that it is illegal even if the manager — or another person in an authority position — directly provides patrons with table service. They still can’t be included in the tip pool. This prevents an owner from carrying one round of drinks to one table in order to be included in the pool.
So, while tip pooling itself is legal, there are ways that using it may violate your rights as an employee. If this happens, be sure you know what steps to take.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects employees from discrimination, retaliation, and harassment on the basis of their race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, martial status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or veteran or military status.
How many times have you wondered if you’re getting paid your fair share? Do you think you’re underpaid because of your race, sex, gender, disability, or even your prior salary history?