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Can My Employer Take My Tips?

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Working in the service industry is tough. Really tough. One of the few things that make rude, unreasonable customers worth it is the tipping. Some days you get a moderate amount of tips, while once in a while you receive an amazing tip from a generous customer. The point is, every dollar you receive in gratuities matters. So this begs a commonly asked question: can your employer take your tips from you?

The simple answer to this question is: NO, your employer cannot take your tips. California Labor Code Section 351 states that:

No employer or agent shall collect, take, or receive any gratuity or a part thereof that is paid, given to, or left for an employee by a patron, or deduct any amount from wages due an employee on account of a gratuity, or require an employee to credit the amount, or any part thereof, of a gratuity against and as a part of the wages due the employee from the employer. Every gratuity is hereby declared to be the sole property of the employee or employees to whom it was paid, given, or left for.

The labor code further addresses gratuities paid by credit cards, and states that:

An employer that permits patrons to pay gratuities by credit card shall pay the employees the full amount of the gratuity that the patron indicated on the credit card slip, without any deductions for any credit card payment processing fees or costs that may be charged to the employer by the credit card company. Payment of gratuities made by patrons using credit cards shall be made to the employees not later than the next regular payday following the date the patron authorized the credit card payment.

Despite the clear language of the law, it is important to be aware that the practice of tip pooling IS legal. Appellate Courts have determined that the practice of pooling and dividing tips among direct service providers, such as waiters, busboys, and bartenders is legally permissible under Labor Code 351. However, no "employer or agent", including a supervisor, can be included in the distribution of this pool, which belongs solely to employees.

Moss Bollinger Stands Up For Employees

The Moss Bollinger law firm passionately advocates for employees against employers who have violated their legal rights. If we accept your case, we will give you the attention and respect that you deserve. We work on a contingency basis and charge no initial fees. This means we do not get paid unless they settle or we win. Call Moss Bollinger today at 800-249-1175 for a free consultation or complete our online form.

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