Los Alamitos, CA asked in Employment Law for California

Q: can employer lower kitchen staff wages and supplement with server tipshare? (tipshare for servers increased to cover)

company has increased tipshare of servers by 1.2 percent of sales bringing it up to 5 percent. They are going to lower kitchen staff wages (they get paid more than minimum) and start giving them server tipshare to offset for the lower wages. Even if a table does not leave a tip, servers will still be required to pay a total of 5 percent of the sale towards tipshare.

Also "where allowed by law, the company deducts 1.5 percent of the amount of the tip entry on credit card charges to pay a portion of the credit card processing fees for the tip" is that allowed in Santa Monica, Anaheim or CA in general.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I think you have a unlawful wage practice at your restaurant, or several of them. While "Tip Pooling" is allowed in CA, Kitchen staff cannot be included in the tip pool because they are not in the chain of service. I would love to see the written policies that this employer is issuing. If this is a multi state corporation, they may be doing this in other states where this is legal. Next, clearly it is wrong to take a tip share from your wages when you did not receive a tip. The policy states "where allowed by law" and this is prohibited in CA. Keep records. Employers cannot take earnings away from employees, and this would be an unlawful practice. Keep good records and get as many co-employees to keep records of losses. You should take your records and these policies to an employment law attorney for review and assistance. It is better if you have several servers involved in making a claim, because otherwise, the dollar amount is low and the servers that don't make a claim will get paid for the hard work of the others.

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