Tip pooling is the process of collecting all of the tips earned through the night, by all employees who were on the clock, and then splitting them up evenly. This is vastly different from the more common practice of letting employees keep the tips that were given directly to them.
It’s also controversial. For instance, if there are two workers who respectively make $100 and $500 in tips one night, they would pool them. Each would take $300 home. This may seem “fair” in the sense that they got equal amounts, but the employee who made $500 and took home $300 is unlikely to think it’s all that fair. Is this legal under New York law?
Proper tip pools are legal
Generally, tip pooling is legal in New York. It can be done fairly, and employers often use it as a way to allow the waitstaff to work with all guests, rather than being confined to specific tables. This can offer better service to patrons and benefit everybody.
That said, a properly constructed tip pool can never include someone who is not providing this direct service. If your employer or manager is part of the pool, for instance, that is illegal. It takes the wages away from the group that earned them and is a type of wage theft.
Additionally, it’s important for employees to know that a pool is in place. An employee should not be told that they get to keep their tips and then find out at the end of the night that those tips are being divided.
Have you lost wages due to an employer’s actions?
Did issues with tips and wage and hour laws cost you money? Be sure you know what legal options you have moving forward. Protecting your interests is the only way to make sure that employers adhere to the law and don’t cheat others out of what they are due.