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.

6 comments:

  1. Agreed 100%, tip pools create a, "why should I try when Johnny wont do his part", attitude. Who wants to create income for other people who do not share the same attitude towards work.

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  2. So, how do you feel about a "mandatory" tip pool that includes Managers and Supervisors? Different articles and websites have different opinions, though I called the WHD in Tampa and was told a "rep for the employer ie mgr/supervisor may NEVER share in a tip pool". We have a dining room mgr, employee mgr (schedules/hiring etc.), bar mgr and floor mgr (Manager on Duty)...ALL schedule themselves to work 40 hours a week, rarely actually work a section of the floor generating tips (but they do occasionally, probably meeting the $30 month tip rule), and are included 100% of the tip pool. NOT salaried, and do incur overtime. So, are they allowed to participate in the tip pool here in Florida?

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  3. My employer pays me a base wage plus a service charge that is put into a pool. My employer says that is different from a tip pool. I'm all confused, is there a limitation on who can participate in a service pool? Also, my supervisor says a tip pool is not mandatory in the sense that a service charge is mandatory for the patron to pay, it is not mandatory for a patron to pay a tip. Help.

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  4. Excellent question. A "Service Charge" pool the service charge belongs to the house and is counted as revenue. The Service Charge can be share with any one the owners want to share it with. In a tip pool the tips can be shared with any one the owner wants as well, however, if the restaurant pays you less than the minimum wage per hour (currently $7.31 in Fla.( then the tips in the pool may only be shared with persons who have more than de minis (a little) contact with the guests.

    It is a complicated matter and if you would like to speak with a lawyer to get an opinion of how the law applies to your individual situation, please call out office.

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  5. Dear Sir:
    Are there laws regulating what percentage the teppanyaki chefs can share in the tips? What about the beverage sales? Are they legally entitled to getting 7.5% of that as well? I work in a japanese restaurant and they make us tip out 7.5% of our total sale, including the bar sale regardless of what we actually make. Sometimes, the tab can be substantial because of the size of the party.
    It could come to a few hundred $$. Who can I talk to about the legality of the situation?
    Is there a fair and reasonable number that the restaurant can impose or they can do whatever they want? Does the EEOC have that kind of information or persons to educate the uninformed? I really like to speak to someone about it

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  6. As a server I have to tip out at the end of the evening to the Manager. First I heard the tips were going to busboys and food runners. Then I found out they were not getting any tips and that our tip out was going to help cover the band that was playing that night. I think the Manager is stealing the tips and don't think I should have to pay for the cover band. Is this legal?? I have no problem tipping out directly to bartenders or busboys but I think something is going on that's not on the up and up.

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