Is your workplace tip policy legal?

Massachusetts takes the protection of its employees seriously. Employees who work primarily for tips are no exception.

Tip pooling can be legal in some cases. For example, a restaurant owner can obligate their wait staff to share a reasonable part of their tips with a busboy. This is only legal because that employee is part of the service staff. A tip pool, however, cannot be used to pay other members of a staff who do not work for tips. Tip pooling can never be used to pay an employer or managerial staff.

Attorney David Dishman has pursued tip-sharing claims on the behalf of exotic dancers in class action cases against numerous adult entertainment clubs.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is legal, as it is in many states, for an employer to take a tip credit. This means that an employer can legally pay their employee less than minimum wage if they can expect that the employee will make the majority of their pay in the form of tips.

If your tips and wages combined do not exceed the state minimum wage, you are entitled to a higher wage. Minimum wage must be met by a combination of wages and tips. If wages are so low that tips do not bring it up past minimum wage, then the employee’s wages must be increased. In Massachusetts, minimum wage is 8.00/hour, and that rate is set to go up.

If you are concerned about how your employer is handling tips at your workplace, contact Attorney David Dishman at 617-523-5252 for a free consultation.

2 thoughts on “Is your workplace tip policy legal?

  1. Gary R

    How can our minimum wage laws concern themselves with the public’s tips? Why do our minimum wage laws include provisions concerning the tips our public chooses to bestow on workers in the service industry? Aren’t our minimum wage laws supposed to be solely concerned with the hourly wages employers are required to pay their employees? How did the tips we consumers present workers in the service industry get tied into minimum wage laws? I don’t understand.

    When did our minimum wage laws get changed from that which requires employers to pay their workers a particular wage to that which concerns our public’s private property, their tips? Is our public’s private property now under the jurisdiction of our minimum wage laws? How the hell did this happen?

    Customer tips have no business being included in our minimum wage laws. Tips originate as the customer’s private property. Who authorized our government to govern our citizen’s private property in such a manner? I can understand why federal laws govern the wages employers must pay their employees but can someone please explain why our minimum wage laws are allegedly governing the tips customers voluntarily choose to give particular workers?

    Something stinks here. When did our government become authorized to govern our citizens private property for the sole purpose of providing employers with a means to circumvent or contravene our minimum wage laws?

    1. David Dishman Post author

      Actually the Massachusetts tip statute is designed to ensure that tipped employees receive the tips they are supposed to receive. One aspect of the tip statute is to prevent tips from being shared with management. Another aspect requires employers to pay tipped employees $8/hour not $2.63/hour if they violate the tip statute.

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