California Laws for Tipped Employees | Mann & Elias
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California Laws for Tipped Employees

Contact an Employee Rights Attorney For Restaurant Workers

If you work in the restaurant business, tips are a very important factor in your everyday line of work. Therefore, you should be well aware of your rights as an employee. Whether you’re a server, bartender, or chef, tips from satisfied customers often add to more than actual hourly wages paid by employers.

When receiving tips as part of compensation your legal rights under wage and hour laws can become a little complicated. Many rules come into place, such as tip regulations, how much your employer must pay you, and whether you have to participate in a tip pool. In California, the law is very protective of employees, so state laws certainly work more in favor of employees as opposed to federal regulations.

When it comes to restaurant worker’s rights you should know the laws out there to protect yourself. Especially when it comes to receiving tipped wages! If you have legal concerns you’d like to address, schedule a free consultation with an employment attorney in Los Angeles.

The Basics About Tips

The overall rule about tips is that they belong to the employees and not the employer. In California, employers cannot claim tips that are left for their staff. That means you will not have to share tips with the owners, managers, or supervisors.

In addition, employers are not allowed to count tips as part of minimum wage responsibilities. Some states have “tip credit,” which means employers may pay less than minimum wage if employees earn enough tips. However, luckily for California employees, that is not the case, which means that “tip credit” does not exist in this state. Therefore, employers are required to pay employees minimum wage and any tips they have earned.

Tip Pooling

Tip pooling is allowed in California. At the end of the night employees combine all of their tips before equally redistributing it amongst everyone in the pool from the kitchen to wait staff. It is essential to know that if employers choose to do this in LA, they must follow certain guidelines when creating a valid tip pool.

The following employees are allowed to participate in the tip pool, which is part of the “chain of service,” which means they provide a direct table service:

  • Servers
  • Bartenders
  • Hosts
  • Bussers

However, cooks, dishwashers, and cashiers are not allowed to be in the tip pool, as they do not provide direct table service. Additionally, managers and supervisors cannot participate even if they provide direct table service.

Tips in the pool must be distributed fairly and in a reasonable manner. It is typically determined based on the amount of service the employee provided to the customer. For instance, in California, the legal distribution for employees is:

  • 80% for the wait staff
  • 15% for bussers
  • 5% for bartenders.

However, each business differs case-by-case.

Mandatory Service Charges

In federal and California law, this is not considered a tip. The mandatory service charge is something added for large parties, private parties, or catered events. It goes directly to the employer. It is up to upper management to decide whether or not they would like to distribute the mandatory service charge to the employees; however, most employers give at least a portion of service charges to employees.

Contact a Restaurant Worker Rights Lawyer

If you would like to learn more about your rights as an employee, you should get in contact with an experienced Los Angeles restaurant worker rights lawyer at Mann & Elias.

Our firm specializes in restaurant laws for employees, and we will thoroughly explain what is required for employers. If you believe that your employer is not abiding by the federal or California laws, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

We are well-versed in restaurant worker rights and will get you the legal help and advice you need. We are the team of employee discrimination lawyers that you need on your side if you are experiencing unfair treatment in your workplace regarding restaurant laws.


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