Restaurant service employees, such as servers, runners, bussers, and captains, rely on tips as a significant portion of their wages. Restaurant employers may require tip sharing and may set the rules by which pooled tips are divided among service employees. However, the law in New York strictly limits participation in tip pools to service staff. Managers and supervisors who have meaningful authority over other employees – such as making decisions regarding employee hiring, firing, scheduling, discipline, and compensation – cannot receive a portion of the tip pool. Likewise, kitchen staff, dishwashers and other back of house workers who do not interact with customers cannot be included in mandatory tip pooling or sharing. The employer itself may not keep any portion of employees’ gratuities.
In addition, many restaurants automatically add a “service charge” or similar fee to customers’ bills for large groups, private events, or banquets. Unless the restaurant clearly informs the customer that the charge is not a gratuity, under New York law that charge must be distributed to service employees.
Joseph & Kirschenbaum has been litigating tip theft cases for over 16 years, both as class actions and on behalf of individual employees. We have successfully sued some of New York City’s most prominent restaurants and restaurant groups, such as the Batali restaurants, Jean-Georges, River Café, and Le Bernardin. Our results in tip theft cases include:
- $8.5 million settlement for a class of banquet servers
- $5.25 million settlement for a class of tipped employees of a New York restaurant group
- $4.75 million settlement for a class of banquet servers
- $2.5 million settlement for a class of tipped employees of a high-end New York City restaurant
- $2 million settlement for a class of tipped employees at one New York City restaurant
- $1.1 million settlement for a class of tipped employees at one New York City restaurant
- Arbitration award of roughly $319,000 for three tipped employees
- $150,000 settlement for two tipped restaurant workers
- $120,000 settlement for three tipped restaurant employees
Do not allow the theft of your tips to continue. An attorney experienced in tip and wage theft cases can advise you on how to take action, even if you are afraid of losing your job or receiving illegal retaliation.
Call the office of Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP at 212-688-5640, contact us online using this form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation about your tips with one of our attorneys. Se habla español.