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Tips- revisited

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Anyone know the current laws regarding tipped employees? One of my friends is working in a place where the owner keeps all tips. His feeling is that no one is capable of serving his customers as well as he can......consequently, he pays the staff minimum wage and even tho they wait on the customers they are never given any share of the tips, and the average tip is a nice amount at this little place. Customers are under the impression that the servers receive the tips. I wonder if what he is doing is allowed by law, having not been a waitress for more than 20 years has me wondering if this is legal. I do seem to remember that if the owner paid minimum wage that they could then divide the tips among all employees but that might have changed over the years.
Anyone have any info on current laws? I feel really bad for my friend who has to work at the place because of the current job crisis locally, she also gets to clean up after him, wash the floors etc. I keep hoping every day that she finds another job but until then she needs to keep this one. I tell her he is really lucky that I don't work anymore as I'd probably just go get a job there to make sure his customers knew that he takes the tips they leave for the server..........but then again she said if he sees a customer trying to talk to her he comes running over and makes her leave the table, he doesn't want her speaking to them, she's to serve them without speaking and refer them to him for anything they need or want, even a glass of water, they have to ask him and then she is told to go get it and serve it.
I better stop now, I'm getting myself all nutso over this. So, any info from anyone on this?:mad:
post #2 of 19
Don't know law exactly, but one thing I do know is that all the employees should get together and take a walk down to IRS office in their area and report him for tax evasion.:lol:
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post #3 of 19
well, here is what I found, looks like someone could be in trouble. Keep in mind it is from a law firm and not the state but it is centered on Florida Law.

from: Tipped Employees, Minimum Wage & Overtime Law Florida

A second mistake employers commonly make which invalidates the “tip credit” is that employers create an improper “tip pool” for their tipped employees. For example, restaurant owners cannot “pocket” a portion of their employees’ hard earned tips. An employer also cannot force tipped employees to share their tips with managerial or other employees who do not customarily receive tips (i.e. cooks, manager, owner, office workers). If you are being required to share your tips with people who do not customarily receive them, the “tip credit” may be invalid, and you may be entitled to the full federal or Florida minimum wage, whichever is higher for the past two to three years under federal law, and the past five years under Florida law. You also may be entitled to up to double the amount of your unpaid wages plus attorneys’ fess and costs
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post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestion

:mad: I have told her to keep meticulous records for herself in dealings with him, record every hour and amount she is paid......something tells me that come time for her to receive a W2 from him she will find a discrepency in the amounts between her records and his, he sure is not going to want to pay taxes on the amount he is receiving from all the tips he is pocketing (especially the CC tips) and will probably try to put some of it onto her W2. She told me that the other night she waited on a table of 6 and they left a tip of $60 on the gentlemans credit card, another member in the party came over to her and handed her a $20 in cash and said she took such good care of them he wanted to give her more, she said the owner almost killed himself getting to where she was standing to take it from her...........I would have had my hands around his neck at that point when he demanded she hand it over. She said that he told her that because he pays her minimum wage the law says the tips are his to do with as he sees fit, and he sees fit to keep them for himself of course.
post #5 of 19
Your friend would need professional legal advice to get a definite answer on this. Insofar as I know anything about it -- and it's not much -- if she's getting minimum wage she may not have a legal leg to stand on.

Can I suggest that when the bill is brought, she remark that tips go exclusively to management, not to waitstaff, so customers should not feel they need to pay anything beyond the bill itself. That's honest, and if the customers want to tip management, they have the option... but I suspect tips will more or less disappear.
post #6 of 19
I would do as Chris says. I would inform each and every table I waited on that tips go to the OWNER, not to the servers so no tip is necessary. Many customers will work themselves up over this and probably do something about it whether it's talking to the manager, or secretely handing tips to the waitress - and even if the owner comes over to take that tip the customer will surely put up a fight.

In other businesses like salons when the owner receives a tip he usually disperses it amongst the staff.

I mean come on, who'd want a waitressing job if it weren't for the tips?

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post #7 of 19
Personally, I think whether the customer puts up a fight or not is sort of irrelevant. I mean, yes, it might change the policy eventually, or there might be other fallout, who knows. But since almost every customer believes that their tips go to the servers, there's a sort of guilt thing: if I don't tip at least 15%, this lady is going to starve, etc. So you just make clear that that's not the policy at this restaurant, and let the customer decide.

I would love to see a restaurant that did it differently. I'd like to see every item on the menu be jacked 15% in advance. Then you state clearly that this restaurant includes all service fees in its charges, and no additional tips are necessary or expected. Of course if a grateful customer wishes to pay extra, it will be accepted with pleasure, but this is absolutely not necessary. Seems to me that's a kind of honesty: I look at the menu, I know what stuff costs, period, no messing around. And when it turns out that lots of places muck around with tips, share them, pool them, steal them, whatever, I'd rather not deal with it at all. Just put it on the menu and I don't have to worry about it: if I don't like the prices, I won't eat there.

Anyway, I'm just suggesting that if a restaurant has a radically different policy from most, the servers should explain it to the customers. What's wrong with that? Basic honesty.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for the suggestions

We live in a pretty small town and this is a small place with high income customers so although it isn't fancy the clientele do leave generous tips. Often when she and I are out shopping or picking up her kids we will run into some customer that she has taken care of previously, they always stop and thank her for taking such good care of them. Today when we were food shopping she spotted a customer on the same checkout line as us and nodded hello to them, they said they were coming to eat later this week..........of course I had to shoot off my mouth and say, "it's such a nice little place and so unusual that the waitress isn't allowed to receive tips and so she doesn't look at the customer as a dollar sign when she sees them come in, takes a lot of pressure off the people dining out, trying to figure out a proper tip to leave" She almost hit the floor and the customer took a second and then responded with "you mean you don't get the tips we leave?" my friend was speechless at first but then responded that "no, I am not allowed to take any tips, the owner keeps them all" the customer wasn't amused to say the least and then he asked her how much she is paid and when she responded minimum wage he was shocked, he also said he will be sure to tell the rest of his and his wifes friends who go to the place frequently that she doesn't get any of the tips........should be a fun week at the place I think. He did say he would tell his friends not to mention how he found out. My friend is petrified now but I told her she would make more working at a McDonalds and do a whole lot less work, I also told her if her boss has any problem with the truth getting out he should come see me.:D
post #9 of 19
Tipping was originally for an added thank you for better then average service rendered. Now I feel its an excuse for restaurant\ owners to pay the service staff a wage which is lower then poverty level .

It has also gotten out of hand in the fact that if someone gives bad service and the patron does not tip, that the service employee calls the customer cheap . Who is wrong here? I am still trying to figure out how to train monkees in good service to wait on people. Eventually may.
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post #10 of 19
In some states there are laws against such unethical practices. You are correct that your friend [as well as the other employees] should keep very detailed records -- day, date, time and amounts, even patrons' names if she knows them. At some point in time, hopefully very soon, this greedy, unscrupulous thief will be called for a reckoning.
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post #11 of 19
If there may be legal recourse here, your friend might want to look into that and seek legal counsel. It's quite possible that the local Legal Aid would be interested: a manager treating minimum wage employees unethically and possibly illegally is right up their alley. I don't know what other offices look into stuff like that -- Better Business Bureau, maybe? -- but Legal Aid would be able to direct her. If in fact the man's practices are technically legal but just wildly unethical, somebody like Legal Aid ought to be able to suggest what action your friend can and cannot take on her own. That is, if she does something that seems perfectly reasonable to you or me, and the boss fires her, it might turn out that the thing she did allows him to fire her without notice, whereas if she'd done something slightly different he wouldn't be able to do so and she'd have grounds against him.

At any rate, this really sounds like something where a qualified attorney ought to be giving at least baseline advice.
post #12 of 19
my original post is linked to a Florid law firm that apparently does exactly this sort of work....kinda why i searched and posted that link.:p
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #13 of 19
Sorry, I forgot.

Still, Legal Aid is another good place to look.
post #14 of 19
I agree but still maintain I R S . It, is as we all know the only agency that you are guilty till proven innocent:lol::D
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post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

My big mouth

What is that old saying about news traveling fast............when I shot my mouth off the other day to the customer we met at the grocery store my friend was afraid the owner would find out and she would get fired, so far she hasn't. She called me when she got home tonight and said that customer came in the next night with his wife and another couple for dinner. She waited on them again and they were very nice to her and told the owner that everything was great, when the owner gave them the check she said they gave the money to her and said to keep the change.......the change amounted to just a little over a dollar on a check of over $150, she said the guy we had met just gave her a big smile and looked over at the owner as they left. She also said she overheard that customer telling some other customers that he knew for a fact the waitress was not allowed to receive tips.........like I said small town where everybody knows each other and small place. She told me that in the past 3 nights the owner has gotten maybe $30 in tips altogether, normally he would have gotten well over $200.........one customer walked up and said to the owner "I am so sorry that I have been insulting you all the time I have been leaving a tip, it's a common practice that the owner doesn't receive a tip. I apoligize and won't do it again" I realize this really was none of my business but what he is doing isn't right in my opinion, if he let the customers know that he was keeping the tips I would be fine with it but he doesn't and they were/are under the impression that the waitress receives them. So far she is still working but I told her she may still want to find a better place as soon as she can. Thanks for all the input.:D
post #16 of 19
Ouch. This guy is now facing a serious public relations problem. And if the town is really that small, I bet the tax people are going to hear about it too -- hope he's documenting and paying taxes on all those back tips!

If I were him, I'd post a sign, or write to the local paper, or whatever, and say that I've changed my policy and now the waitstaff are keeping their tips like at most places. And then, to be honest, I'd cut their pay below minimum wage, as is my right if they keep their tips.
post #17 of 19
The guy is a pig, no doubt. But who in their right mind would work as a server for minimum wage and no tips?:eek: I've spent most of the last 20 years in the kitchen, but as a young man I decided the servers had it easy, so I took a job a server. Needless to say, I didn't last long!:lol: A chef or line cook may have skills that a server doesn't have but just putting up with people's **** is a skill unto itself! And one I sorely lack...:roll:
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #18 of 19
Just when I think I've heard it all...

Your friend should seek other employment immediately. This kind of behavior is abhorrent. If the owner is so confident in his ability to provide better service, stick him alone on a Saturday shift. Let him try to wait on every table alone.

If your friend really doesn't want to quit,, provide terrible service. I am staunchly opposed to idea of providing bad service simply because of any sort of personal vendetta, but this pretty much merits it. I would also report to the IRS, better business bureau, state labor bureau's, and every restaurant review site I could find. These types of owners don't deserve the business they own.

I would be very surprised if she couldn't find another job that would pay at least min wage for a lot less work.
post #19 of 19
I was with you on the first part, but not the second.
And I'm sure in retrospect you're not that committed to your secondary advice either.
Providing poor service only hurts 2 people: the server and the customer.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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