Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Florida Minimum Wage Increases in 2012

The new year will ring in a new raise for Florida workers who make minimum wage.Minimum wage will be rising by 36 cents to $7.67 per hour starting Jan.1. It’s about a five-percent increase.The increase will be approximately $14.40 to the paychecks of workers who put in 40 hours per week or about $750 extra a year. About 250,000 workers in Florida earn the minimum wage, mostly at restaurants, bars, and retail stores.For tipped employees, businesses will be required to pay $4.65 an hour.The last minimum wage increase was in June when the rate rose by six cents an hour. The rate increase in June came after the state decreased the minimum wage in 2010.Florida’s minimum wage increases are based on cost of living increases.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Restaurant Forced to Pay Server $127,000 For Unpaid Wages

In Lanzetta v. Florio’s Enterprises, Judge Denny Chin awarded $127,938.21 in back wages and damages to Carmella Lanzetta, a former waitress at Florio’s Restaurant in Little Italy.  During her four years at Florio’s, and in violation of both state and federal wage and hour laws, Florio’s compensated Lanzetta only with tips, never paying her an hourly wage and failing to pay her for overtime.  For the first two years of her employment at the restaurant, Florio’s forced Lanzetta to pay $160.00 in weekly withholding taxes, which Lanzetta paid from her tip income.  Even so, Florio’s would only remit $111.85 of this amount to the government, keeping the excess.  In addition, while Lanzetta regularly worked over ten-hour shifts, she was never paid for an additional hour of “spread-of-hours” pay.

In his Opinion, Judge Chin held that not only was Florio’s Restaurant liable for damages, but that its managers were as well.  Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), “employers” are liable for their violations of labor laws.  In Lanzetta, the court found that both of Florio’s managers held enough power and control to be considered “employers” under the law and therefore subjected them to personal liability for their wage and hour violations.

Little Italy restaurants are part of the wave of lawsuits against restaurants in Manhattan which make the complaint that restaurant worker rights are being violated under the FLSA and New York Labor Law.  SPQR is another popular Little Italy restaurant that was recently sued by waiters, bus boys, and bartenders.  The SPQR lawsuit alleges wage theft of tips by managers and unpaid overtime under the FLSA and the local labor Law.


FRIDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Having an abusive boss can do more than ruin your workday, it can also harm your family life, new research suggests.
The study, published online and in the winter issue of the journal Personnel Psychology, included 280 full-time employees and their partners who completed online surveys.
The Baylor University researchers found that the stress and tension an abusive boss causes an employee also affects the worker's partner, their relationship and the rest of the family.
However, the longer the employee-partner relationship, the less effect the abusive boss had on the family. The researchers also found that having more children at home meant greater family satisfaction for the employee.
"These findings have important implications for organizations and their managers. The evidence highlights the need for organizations to send an unequivocal message to those in supervisory positions that these hostile and harmful behaviors will not be tolerated," study author Dawn Carlson, a professor of management and chair of organizational development at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor, said in a university news release.
Abuse by a boss may include tantrums, rudeness, public criticism and inconsiderate action, the study authors pointed out.
"It may be that as supervisor abuse heightens tension in the relationship, the employee is less motivated or able to engage in positive interactions with the partner and other family members," study co-author Merideth Ferguson, an assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship, said in the news release.
Businesses and other organizations should encourage workers to use employee assistance programs or other resources, such as counseling and stress management, to find ways to reduce the impact an abusive boss has on the family, the study authors said.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Florida Minimum Wage to Increase January 1, 2012

Florida's minimum wage is going up 36 cents to $7.67 an hour on Jan. 1 to reflect a higher cost of living, announced the state's Department of Economic Opportunity.

The Sunshine State's minimum wage is now at $7.31 an hour.

It was raised six cents in June from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 after a judge ruled it should reflect a higher cost of living in the state to comply with a constitutional amendment.

Voters approved the amendment in 2004 to require Florida's minimum wage to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

The minimum wage for tipped workers will also increase 36 cents, from $4.29 to $4.65 an hour on Jan. 1.

Florida is one of seven states that have recently announced cost-of-living increases to their minimum wages.

Some Floridians have worried that the increased minimum wage will hurt job creation, particularly for teenagers or first-time workers. The state's unemployment rate of 10.7 percent significantly higher than the national average of 9.1 percent.

But the National Employment Law Project said the upcoming increase is needed to help working families.

"With staggering unemployment and slow job creation combining to depress wages, these modest annual minimum wage increases are one of the few policies that counteract downward pressure on wages and prevent the lowest wage earners from falling even further behind,'' said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Texas Roadhouse Restaurants Accused of Age Discrimination - Not HIring Over 40 Employees For FOH Positionss

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission has filed suit against the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain in the U.S. District Court in Boston, claiming the restaurant discriminates against workers over 40 when hiring “front of the house” staff that interacts with the public.

“Applicants rarely know that they have been denied a job because of their age,” said Mark Penzel, senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s Boston office, in a statement. “When the commission uncovers such evidence, it will act aggressively to remedy the violation.”

The complaint alleges the Kentucky-based restaurant chain has instructed its managers since 2007 to hire younger servers, hosts and bartenders, and has few employees over 40 in those positions.

“We deny the EEOC’s allegations that we violated the Age Discrimination Act,” said Texas Roadhouse spokesman Travis Doster, in a statement. “We are fully prepared to defend against these baseless claims.”

The EEOC said it failed in a routine attempt to settle the matter with Texas Roadhouse before filing suit.

Texas Roadhouse has 350 locations in 46 states, including restaurants in Everett, Brockton, North Dartmouth, Danvers, Methuen, Walpole, Worcester, Leominster and Springfield.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Adulterated Food: Hindus Sue

A New Jersey restaurant that served meat to a group of vegetarian Hindus may have to pick up the tab for their trip to India for a cleansing ritual, a court panel ruled.

The three-judge panel reinstated a lawsuit filed against Moghul Express, an Indian restaurant in Edison that admitted serving meat-filled pastries to 16 Hindus, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.

The group's religion bars them from eating meat, and the diners said the mix-up tainted them spiritually.

To save their souls, the group claims, they must wash themselves in India's Ganges River, more than 8,000 miles away.

And they want the restaurant to foot the bill.

"If you follow the scriptures, it's definitely a huge cost," Mehul Thakkar, a spokesman for the Yogi Divine Society, a Hindu nonprofit, told the Star-Leger.

The purification ceremony can last upwards of 30 days, putting the cost somewhere in the thousands, Thakkar said.

The group sued after unknowingly noshing on meat-filled samosas during an Indian Day celebration in August 2009.

Moghul Express had assured them the flaky treats were vegetarian, but after the group tasted them and complained, the kitchen admitted it mixed up their order.

A Superior Court threw the case out last year, but the diners appealed and won on Monday.

Pradip Kothari, president of the Indo-American Cultural Society in Edison, called the lawsuit "a hypocrisy of the law."

"They can go to a temple here and ask God for forgiveness. God is not going to punish you for doing something unknowingly," he told the Star-Ledger.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Florida Republicans and Governor Rick Scott Stick It To The Working Persons Again

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed into law legislation that reduces unemployment benefits in the state when the jobless rate falls to 5 percent or lower.

The new law also makes it more difficult for unemployed residents to qualify for unemployment benefits, denying them for misconduct such as chronic absenteeism or violation of an employer’s rules -- even outside of work.

Republicans in both Houses argued the bill was critical to protecting Florida’s business climate. The measure also supports Scott’s budget plan to reduce unemployment taxes for employers by $630.8 million.

Democratic representatives, and civic groups including Florida New Majority, objected to the legislation, HB 7005, saying benefit cuts would disproportionately affect black, Latino and low-income families.

The new law doesn’t affect Florida residents currently on unemployment benefits. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, the number of available state benefit weeks is reduced from 26 to 23 and the number of available state benefit weeks is tied to the unemployment rate on a sliding scale. If unemployment rate is 5 percent or lower, for example, the number of available weeks is 12. If the unemployment rate is 10.5 percent or higher, the number of available weeks is 23.

The law also mandates an initial skills review for unemployed residents to qualify for state benefit. It also provides for registration with a one-stop career center for reemployment services and requires those receiving benefits to contact at least five prospective employers each week to continue receiving benefits.

Before the new law, Florida already had one of the strictest unemployment compensation programs in the country, said the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for the unemployed. The 75-year national standard for unemployment benefits has been 26 weeks.
Florida’s unemployment rate is also among the highest in the nation, at 10.6 percent in May.


Restaurant Chain Using Tip Sharing To Curb Payroll Costs

With the Great Recession pinching profits, restaurant chains both big and small are searching for every way possible to trim costs and boost profits.

Wait staff tips have become one target of such efforts.

While most patrons, it seems safe to assume, still view tips as a way of rewarding good service, restaurants are increasingly viewing those tips as a way of reducing payroll costs.

Darden Restaurants, one of the largest restaurant companies in the U.S., recently began rolling out a mandatory tip-sharing scheme in its Olive Garden and Red Lobster Restaurants.

Part of an initiative to reduce the company's annual wage costs by around $40 million, the plan, which was detailed in a recent article in the Orlando Sentinel, establishes percentages that servers are required to share with others. This new "tip-out" percent is, in turn, being used to justify reductions in hourly wage rates paid to busboys and bartenders.

Though Darden's official spokesman was reluctant to share details with the media, employees at locations where the plan has already been implemented complain that their earnings have been substantially curtailed by this new approach.

Such mandatory tip sharing stratagems have become easy to implement now that most guests pay with "plastic." Restaurants retain tips received as digital tender, then subsequently divide up and disburse the tip monies through their payroll systems.

Darden is also reportedly looking to reduce the number of full-time employees in its restaurants, replacing them instead with less expensive part-time associates.

Some in the industry have speculated that such cost cutting is shortsighted, since it reduces the financial incentive that otherwise encourages wait staff to deliver top quality service.

Muslim Woman Sues Abercrombie & Fitch Over Hijab

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A former stockroom worker for Abercrombie & Fitch Co. sued the clothing retailer in federal court Monday, saying she was illegally fired after refusing to remove her Muslim headscarf while on the job.

Hani Khan said a manager at the company's Hollister Co. store at the Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo hired her while she was wearing her hijab. The manager said it was OK to wear it as long as it was in company colors, Khan said.

Four months later, the 20-year-old says a district manager and human resources manager asked if she could remove the hijab while working, and she was suspended and then fired for refusing to do so.
It's the latest employment discrimination charge against the company's so-called "look policy," which critics say means images of mostly white, young, athletic-looking people. The New Albany, Ohio-based company has said it does not tolerate discrimination.

Still, Abercrombie has been the target of numerous discrimination lawsuits, including a federal class action brought by black, Hispanic and Asian employees and job applicants that was settled for $40 million in 2004. The company admitted no wrongdoing, though it was forced to implement new programs and policies to increase diversity.

"Growing up in this country where the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion, I felt let down," Khan, now a college student studying political science, said at a news conference. "This case is about principles, the right to be able to express your religion freely and be able to work in this country."
Abercrombie defended its record in a comment provided to The Associated Press, saying diversity in its stores "far exceeds the diversity in the population of the United States."

"We comply with the law regarding reasonable religious accommodation, and we will continue to do so," said Rocky Robbins, the company's general counsel. "We are confident that when this matter is tried, a jury will find that we have fully complied with the law."

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco comes after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in September that Khan was fired illegally. Khan's lawsuit was filed in conjunction with the EEOC's lawsuit.

It is not the first time the company has been charged with discriminating against Muslim women over the wearing of a hijab.

In 2009, Samantha Elauf, who was 17 at the time, filed a federal lawsuit in Tulsa, Okla., alleging the company rejected her for a job because she was wearing a hijab. That case is still ongoing.
The EEOC filed another lawsuit for the same reason, saying the company denied work to a hijab-wearing woman who applied for a stocking position in 2008 at an Abercrombie Kids store at the Great Mall in Milpitas, Calif.

Khan's attorney said her client is looking to get Abercrombie to change its "look policy" to allow religious headscarves to be worn by employees, and for unspecified damages. The lawsuit alleges violations of federal and state civil rights and employment laws.

"Abercrombie prides itself on requiring what it calls a natural classic American style. But there's nothing American about discriminating against someone because of their religion," said Araceli Martinez-Olguin, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center.

"Such a look policy cannot be squared with our shared values. No worker should have to choose between their religion and their job."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Florida's New Minimum Wage June 1, 2011

Florida's new minimum wage is $7.31 an hour, up from $7.25, takes effect on Wednesday. That's the minimum amount employers must pay employees, including domestic workers.

The state's minimum wage was increased after a successful Constitutional challenge by the National Employment Law Project and Florida Legal Services. The worker advocacy groups sought to correct an error in the method used by the state work force agency in calculating an adjustment in the minimum wage for inflation.

For tipped workers, the increase is from $4.23 an hour to $4.29 an hour, with the remaining $3.02 to made up by tips.

If your employer is not paying you properly, contact my office at 305.358.6800.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Facebook Posting Led To Worker's Unfair Firing: Feds

WASHINGTON -- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced today that it has filed a complaint alleging that a Chicago-area car dealership wrongfully fired an employee after he posted commentary critical of the company on his Facebook page. The complaint is the latest in a string of moves by the labor board indicating that it wants to clarify workers' rights when it comes to Facebook and labor law.

In the Illinois case, a car salesman at Karl Knauz BMW, in Lake Bluff, took to Facebook to complain about the lame food and drinks served at a dealership event promoting a new BMW model. He and a few co-workers apparently felt that Sam's Club hot dogs and bottled water were no way to hype a luxury car -- and they thought their sales might suffer because of it. The salesman's critical commentary included photographic evidence of the unremarkable snacks.

At the behest of management, the employee pulled down his post the following week, but he was later fired for it anyway. In its complaint, the NLRB counsel argues that the Facebook posting is "protected concerted activity" -- that's labor-speak for things your employer can't retaliate against you for.

The case suggests, once again, that the labor board views Facebook and other social networking sites as a kind of open forum where employees should feel free to discuss working conditions without fear of being punished.

Just last week, the labor board ruled that a Buffalo, N.Y., nonprofit wrongfully fired five of its workers after they criticized their employer in postings on Facebook. In that case, a worker at Hispanics United hopped on Facebook and floated a colleague's allegation that employees at the nonprofit didn’t do enough to help their clients. The post drew some heated commentary from other employees, and management later canned five of them, saying their comments amounted to harassment of the employee who originally criticized co-workers.

In a case brought by the NLRB last fall, an employee at a Connecticut ambulance company was fired after disparaging her boss on Facebook. The case was settled in February, and the company, American Medical Response, agreed to no longer discipline employees for discussing their working conditions on Facebook or elsewhere.

An NLRB spokesperson says that in the wake of the American Medical Response case, the agency has received a number of complaints regarding firings due to Facebook posts.
Story continues below

Barring a settlement between the car dealership and the feds, the Illinois case will go before an administrative law judge in July.

When asked about the complaint over the phone, a manager at Karl Knauz BMW said, "I don't know anything about that."

UPDATE: According to trade magazine Dealer, a lawyer for the dealership disputes the NLRB's complaint, saying the worker was fired for reasons other than criticizing his employer in a Facebook posting.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Feds Bust South Beach Club Operators in Sexy ‘B-Girls’ Case


Sexy Eastern European women dubbed “B-Girls” seduced touristy businessmen at a half-dozen South Beach nightclubs, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges on their credit cards for expensive bottles of champagne and other booze without their knowledge, federal authorities said Wednesday.

Early Wednesday, FBI agents arrested 17 men and women, mostly from South Florida and Eastern European countries. The club operators allegedly hired the women as “Bar Girls” to lure as many as 88 visiting businessmen into the Washington Avenue clubs to rack up the charges on their credit cards — sometimes by forging signatures on receipts, according to an FBI criminal affidavit.

One victim was charged $43,000 on his credit card, the affidavit said. One bottle of champagne cost $5,000.
In return, the B-Girls pocketed 20 percent of what they brought in and the private club managers kept 10 percent of the take, the affidavit said.

The FBI carried out the undercover investigation by deploying an agent who was able to infiltrate the alleged crime ring by posing as a “corrupt police officer working off-duty” as a bouncer or doorman.

The Miami Beach clubs implicated in the alleged year-long racket are: Caviar Bar, 643 Washington Ave.; Stars Lounge, 643 Washington Ave.; Club Moreno, 1341 Washington Ave.; Nowhere Bar, 653 Washington Ave.; Steel Toast, 758 Washington Ave.; and Tangia Club, 841 Washington Ave.

The 17 defendants who operated the clubs are charged with wire fraud, prosecutors said. They are scheduled to have their first appearances in Miami federal court Wednesday afternoon.

“This scheme used women from Eastern Europe to lure and defraud out-of-state businessmen and tourists,” U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said in a statement. “This scheme preyed on our tourists and gave our tourism industry a black eye.”

Added FBI special agent in charge John Gillies: “The dismantlement and disruption of this organized crime group reaffirms the FBI’s and our law enforcement partners’ commitment to remove organized crime from our neighborhoods.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Miami Beach Police Department assisted in the probe, which is ongoing, authorities said.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Republicans Trying To Cut Unemployment Benefits In Florida

Florida HB 7005 again won support, this time in the Economic Affairs Committee on Friday  morning. The vote was 12 to 5, with Republicans in the majority.

Democratic challenges and amendments, primarily from representatives from South Florida and Orlando, failed as the Republican-controlled committee voted to advance the bill.

Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, succeeded also with an amendment adding a clause to the bill that would retain other elements of the bill should it be challenged in court or by federal regulators. Ultimately, the U.S. Labor Department must certify any state's law that changes unemployment compensation.

Opponents to the bill also raised constitutionality issues, but mainly asked legislators not to deny six weeks of benefits and make it more difficult for Florida's unemployed to qualify for benefits.

Karen Woodall, an advocate for the unemployed through the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, urged the committee not to address business climate issues "on the backs of the unemployed." She said reducing state unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 was "unconscionable."

Holder argued that the bill would improve Florida's business climate to attract new business because employers would have to pay fewer weeks of unemployment. He said the goal was to replenish the state's broke unemployment insurance trust fund.

Rep. James Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, questioned how the bill would replenish the trust fund, saying figures in the bill showed that even with the changes the trust fund would ramain at a zero balance through 2020. Holder responded that employers would pay about $18 less an employee for unemployment insurance through the bill.

Randall Webster, who said he was unemployed after a career working in affordable housing and related work, also urged the committe not pass the bill. Webster testified that he and about 25 friends also without jobs have been "diligently trying to find work, but "the jobs are not out there." 

The bill now heads to the floor of the Florida House where it will be heard during the upcoming 2011 Legislative Session. A similar bill -- but one that doesn't reduced the weeks of benefits, is being considered in Florida's Senate.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Age Discrimination is Getting "Old"

Age discrimination is a growing problem in the hospitality and restaurant business throughout Florida and the U.S. If you’re a male bartender over forty (40) your chance of getting a job started decreasing as soon as you turned thirty, or maybe even before if you were applying on South Beach. If you are a woman over forty (40) your chances of moving up or even staying at the same level is getting harder, while the younger cute girls are taking your prime shifts. It seems many restaurant and bar owners, including corporations, think they need to have young cute girls and boys behind the bar to maximize profits.

Let’s take for example two restaurant chains that my firm has recently filed EEOC complaints against; Matteo's and Seasons 52.

I have been a big fan of Seasons 52 ever since they opened their store in Coral Gables. However, I have noticed that EVERY server is under 30. How on earth can that be? Well, after speaking with several very qualified over forty servers who have filled out applications and were interviewed, I can say that in my opinion, Seasons 52 discriminates against over forty (40) server applicants. Why, I can only guess because they want to keep the staff young. Why do they need a young staff? To make people feel “good” about eating at Seasons 52; “You don’t want some old person serving you, do you?” A few of the significant monetary benefits to the company might be:

1.      Lower health  and Workers’ Compensation insurance rates;
2.      Server staff is easier to control;
3.      Fewer employee lawsuits.

Remember, when you run a large corporation, the bottom line is what keeps you employed at the top.

If you would like more information about age discrimination, contact us. We are always available to answer questions to help keep you informed. If you have specific knowledge about any restaurant that refuse to hire over 40 staff  or Seasons 52 we would like to speak with you too. Remember, we are all getting older and having the safety net of working in the restaurant business is nice; if you can get hired when you are over 40!

Some of our other age discrimination cases:

Wowies Sports Bar and Grill
Tarpon Bend Coral Gables
Matteo’s Restaurant - UPDATE - The EEOC has found cause for our clients' age and sex discrimination claims - Two experienced male bartenders were replaced with under forty (40) female bartenders with less experience. Restaurant stated they "wanted to move in a different direction."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Are Tip Pools Legal In Florida?

I worked in the service industry for over 25 years before I went to law school to become “a server with a law degree.” During my 25 years I only worked in a tip pool very seldom, and I can tell you I always disliked it (Adel and Sharif). I firmly believe that tip pools are akin to communism; easy for the government/management to regulate but it strangles individual who strives to make more.

That being said, are they legal in Florida? The plain answer is, Yes. However, any participants in the tip pool must contribute their tips to the pool (Maitre D’s); they cannot just draw from it. Or, persons who share from the pool (Bussers, Food Runners) must have more than minimum contact with guests/customers. A service bartender in the kitchen who has no contact with guests cannot participate in tip sharing while a bartender who works the service bar in the dining room may participate.

Many good servers do not like tip pools because they feel they are not allowed to keep the money that they make and must share their tips with other servers who are just phoning it in. My advice to them is; if you do not like the arrangement, then find a restaurant that does not mandate tip pooling because you will be much happier, just like me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Restaurant Tip And Wage Laws In New York

Rosemarie Ingleton left a $110.40 tip on a $552 check at Indochine on Wednesday night, after making an ineffable calculation based on ambiance, food and, of course, service. But she did not give a lot of thought to how it would be distributed among the staff.

“At a place like Indochine, where there are so many people attending to you, my assumption is that they’re sharing the tip at the end of the night — I’m hoping,” said Dr. Ingleton, a Manhattan dermatologist. “But I don’t really know.”

Few diners do, simply associating the tip they leave with the waiter who takes their orders. But how those tips are shared has become an increasingly contentious issue in the industry, stoking resentments among some workers and prompting a recent raft of lawsuits against some of New York’s most lauded dining rooms.
And now, restaurant managers are scrambling to comply with a new set of state labor regulations — issued two weeks ago and put into effect on Saturday — that for the first time seeks to clarify how restaurants should handle tips. In an acknowledgment of the time crunch, state labor officials are giving restaurants until the end of February to put changes in place, but they must be retroactive to Jan. 1.

“Never before were there any regulations regarding tips in New York State,” except for a mysterious paragraph in a 1968 law that barred employers from appropriating tips, said Jean Lindholm, a supervising labor standards investigator at the State Department of Labor. An inconsistent mixture of Labor Department opinions and lawsuit judgments has governed industry practice through the years, she said, adding, “It was time, long overdue, to clarify the rules.”
The new regulations apply to workers in restaurants and hotels and cover a number of issues, including who should pay for laundering “wash-and-wear” uniforms, like special T-shirts. The rules also raise the minimum wage for tipped employees, to $5 from $4.65 an hour for food service workers and to $5.65 from $4.90 an hour for service workers, a category that includes coat check workers in a restaurant or porters in hotels. (There is a separate minimum for workers at resort hotels.)
The new rules also define the job categories that are eligible for shares in tips from the dining room: food service workers only, including waiters, bartenders and bussers, as well as sommeliers and hosts, provided they are not managers.

The new rules allow restaurants to dictate both the system and the percentage allocated to each job category. Gratuities can be combined in a pool, to be divided by all the staff members who have helped a team effort. Or, individual servers can collect their own tips and give portions, or shares, to members of the team.
The Labor Department will require that employers keep records of tip pools and shares; the records could be examined during investigations undertaken by the department on its own or in response to complaints.
The department can compel a restaurant to pay money owed to employees going back six years. In addition, failure to comply with the rules can make a restaurant vulnerable to a lawsuit, something restaurateurs are especially wary of these days, given how aggressively some lawyers and workers’ advocates are pursuing cases.

The way tips are currently shared varies widely, and the arrangements can seem as complex as a Thomas Keller recipe, even at relatively small or casual spots. Some restaurants, like the Stanton Social, a clubby establishment on the Lower East Side, spread the wealth by percentage at the end of the night, while others, like Indochine, assign a number of points to each job, calculate the value of each point depending on the total amount of tips and then distribute the money accordingly.

There are also different ways of including the bar; at some restaurants, bartenders collect their own tips as well as a share of those from the dining room, while at others they do not. And some places have waiters tip others based on a percentage of their sales, rather than their gratuities.

“Generally, the larger the restaurant — meaning more seats, more employees — the greater the chance for a system that is inequitable but easy,” said Chris Fehlinger, the manager and maître d’hôtel at Peasant, in NoLIta, who has worked at restaurants including Nice Matin, Babbo and Union Square Cafe.

“The percentage of sales,” Mr. Fehlinger said, “is very easy for a manager to just run a report through a computer and say, ‘O.K., here’s what you should tip out.’ But it’s not necessarily fair.”
Higher-end, full-service restaurants tend to favor the pooling of tips, because it breeds less squabbling over stations and shift assignments, provides an incentive for teamwork and encourages the servers to police their own performance.

The new regulations generally limit the pool to service workers in the dining room who interact with customers directly — like waiters — or indirectly, like servers who ferry plates from the kitchen to a station where another server picks them up and delivers them to the table. But bartenders, who prepare beverages for the dining room in a role analogous to that of a cook, can also share in the tip pool, even though kitchen staff members cannot. “A lot of this arises from custom and tradition,” Ms. Lindholm said. “If you’re looking for perfect logic in this, it isn’t there.