Uh Oh: Is Our Cafe Gratitude Running Afoul of CA’s “Tip Pooling” Law? – “Direct Table Service” and “Chain of Service”

Comes now Cafe Gratitude server Sarah Stevens, who alleges that she is:

“…required to participate in an unreasonable and uncustomary tip pooling scheme that leaves her with a very small percentage of the tips she earns as a server. Specifically, Stevens alleges that after tipping out 20% of her daily tips to the “central kitchen” — an offsite kitchen on 14th street — Stevens then splits the remaining 80% of her tips equally with all of the Café Gratitude staff, including the “shift leaders” and retail employees.”

Improper involuntary tip pooling? No thank you!

Today’s special – Greens ‘n Gruel. All right, eat up, after you thank me!

Via Johann F

Per John Birdsall, CG is engaging in shady behavior:

“I Am Shady RT @EastBayExpress Cafe Gratitude sued for labor-code violations http://t.co/Dr9qHQd

Uh Oh. If Sarah can prove what she’s saying, she’ll have a nice case against CG, leaving aside other issues, like her not getting proper breaks ‘n stuff like that.

‘Cause our Department of Industrial Relations does not approve of servers splitting tips with anyone who doesn’t provide “direct table service.”

Check it:

“According to a California court, Labor Code Section 351 allows involuntary tip pooling. Therefore, your employer can require that you share your tips with other staff that provide service in the restaurant. In this regard, it’s DLSE’s position that when a tip pooling arrangement is in effect, the tips are to be distributed among the employees who provide “direct table service.” Such employees could conceivably include waiters and waitresses, busboys, bartenders, host/hostesses and maitre d’s. Employees who do not provide direct table service and who do not share in the tip pool include dishwashers, cooks, and chefs, except in restaurants where the chefs prepare the food at the patron’s table, in which case the chef may participate in the tip pool. Additionally, tip pooling cannot be used to compensate the owner(s), manager(s), or supervisor(s) of the business, even if these individuals should provide direct table service to a patron.”

(California’s laws are biased towards waitstaff at the expense of food preparers, IMO, for whatever reason.)

[UPDATE: Stop the presses! An employment lawyer in the Comments section has just pointed out the "chain of service" concept that some judges worked out a couple years ago. News to me. Anyway, the trend is that our courts are more accepting of mandatory tip pooling schemes than they were a few years back. But still, management has to keep its paws off of tip money in CA no matter what.]

Anyway, from where I’m sitting, this looks like game, set, and match for server Sarah. You hear that, restaurant owners? This is a dead bang, this is a lead pipe cinch. Just saying.

Thank you!

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2 Responses to “Uh Oh: Is Our Cafe Gratitude Running Afoul of CA’s “Tip Pooling” Law? – “Direct Table Service” and “Chain of Service””

  1. “Direct table service” is no longer the rule in California; any employee “not managers) who is in the “chain of service” to restaurant patrons may share in a tip pool.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Oh.

    Muchas!

    I’m not up to date.

    Maybe “indirect table service” is the way to look at it these days.