Tips and tip pools allow restaurants, bars, cafés and nightclubs to pay front of the house staff such as waiters, waitresses, bartenders, barbacks, and bussers $3.02 per hour less than the minimum wage as long as they receive at least minimum wage after tips. The Florida Minimum Wage Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act also consider tips to be the property of the employee, which means that there can be harsh consequences when tips are improperly shared or pooled.
Problems often arises when front of the house staff such as waiters, waitresses, bartenders, barbacks, and bussers are required to pool their tips and then the managers, cooks, back of the house staff, or cleaners get a share of those tips. Most courts would consider invalid an arrangement when a cook, manager, dishwasher, or cleaner receives part of a tip pool.
In this situation, the entire tip pool would be invalidated and could require that the $3.02 per hour be paid back to everyone who contributed to the tip pool, plus an equal amount as liquidated damages, plus each person who contributed to the tip pool could also recover his/her share of the tips improperly distributed from the offending establishment (and not from those who received the tips).
The FairLaw Firm is familiar with tip pooling arrangements and offers a free consultation for all wage claims. If we decide to take a wage case, then it is usually handled on contingency.