Is It Illegal to Steal Tips?

In the restaurant and hospitality industry, it is common practice for customers to give tips to those who have been serving them, particularly if they are happy with the service they have received.

Generally, it is illegal for a manager to take a worker’s tips as they belong to the employee. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) controls rules for tipped employees like bartenders, restaurant servers and valets, and anybody else who receives tips from satisfied customers.

According to the FLSA, tips are the sole property of the employee who has been tipped.

Examples of Tips Being Stolen

For many restaurant workers, tips may make up much of their wages. Tips belong to the restaurant workers quite legally and not the restaurant owners. Federal law imposes a ban on restaurant owners withholding tips. This is called tip skimming. Sometimes, restaurant workers lose their tips when the owners distribute them amongst employees who were not the recipients of the tips.

However, there are tip credits that need to be considered too. These allow an employer to pay any tipped worker lower than the minimum wage as long as the tips bring up their earnings to that minimum wage amount.

Every time a payday comes around, the employer can use tip credits. The FLSA won’t allow any arrangement to take place between the employer and the tipped employee where the employer can keep a tip.

For example, even if a tipped employee gets at least $7.25 per hour as wages from the employer, the employee can’t be made to hand over any tips to his/her employer.

If an employer withholds tips and the worker is not taking home the minimum wage once the tips have been removed this is wage theft.

Tip pooling takes place typically in the food industry, but the employer has to provide notice to tipped employees if the pooling of tips is to take place.

However, tip pools shouldn’t include any employees who don’t get tipped, such as chefs, dishwashers, and cooks.

What to Do If Your Tips Are Being Stolen

If your tips are being stolen at work. See if your co-workers are experiencing the same thing. It is likely that you are not the only one whose tips are being stolen.

If you find out that there are other employees whose tips are being stolen as well, you should address the matter with your boss as a team. If your boss has to confront a group of angry workers, your boss could look to resolve the issue without you having to bring this issue into a lawsuit.

If you don’t think you are getting your fair share of the tips you should do the following:

  • Tell your employer as soon as you know and ask him/her to pay what’s owed.
  • Keep records of your tips as by doing that you will know that the tip mistakes are deliberate if you don’t get your fair share.
  • File a complaint Wages and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor. It is this body which is expected to enforce the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
  • Find out from co workers if they too are having their tips stolen.

What to Do If Your Boss Is Stealing Your Tips?

If you work in a job where you get tips, like a waiter or waitress and your boss is stealing your tips, you may want to file an employment law claim against your employer.

Employees who earn tips are entitled to keep theirs unless their employer has an established “tip pool”. Tip pooling is when all tipped employees contribute some portion of their tips into a pool.

That pool is then divided evenly among a group of employees. If your employer does not have an established tip pool, then your company may have violated both state and federal wage theft laws if your tips are being stolen by your boss.

If your boss has stolen your tips, you need to make sure you gather as much evidence as possible. See if there were any witnesses, if your work has a security system, see if there is video proof that your boss is stealing tips from you.

If your company has an HR Department, you should make sure you file your complaint with them as well. Be sure to remember all the details related to when your boss was stealing your tips.

If the issue is not resolved with your employer’s HR department, you may want to file a wage theft claim against your employer. Some states have their own governing agency that investigates wage theft claims in that state.

You can also file a wage theft claim with the Wages and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor. If you work with an employment law attorney, your attorney can help make sure that all of your paperwork is in order and can help you file your claim with state/federal departments.

Steps to Take if You Think Your Tips on Your Paycheck Are Being Shorted

When you find that your paycheck doesn’t add up to the amount you have earned in tips, there are certain things you can do to get that difference paid and that is:

  • Tell your boss about it.
  • Keep a good record of your tips.
  • Gather the evidence to prove your paycheck has been shorted.
  • File a wage theft claim with WHD.

How a Lawyer Can Help

If your tips are being stolen you want to sort out the matter as soon as possible and this is when an employment lawyer can step in and help you get the tip amount that is owed to you restored. Your lawyer knows how to file WHDs claims and not long after the claim has been fired you will see a result and get back what you are owed.

 An employment law attorney can help make sure that you have all that you need in terms of paperwork, eyewitness statements, the evidence before filing a wage theft claim with your local or federal agencies.

An employment law attorney can also advise you where you should file your claim. If your tips are being stolen at work, your attorney can help you get damages from your wage theft claim.

Damages include lost wages, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. If you win your wage theft claim against your employer, your employer may have to also pay your legal fees as well. Get a free case evaluation today.


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Best Hosting For E-commerce Websites

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Which Hosting Is Best For You

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These are the top three hosting platforms for e-commerce websites. Thank you for reading this article.

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