Is it legal for an employer to take a percentage of a server’s gross sales from their check to disperse as a tip to the kitchen employees?

Asked on November 5, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The employer cannot take money from the server--from his/her tips, or his/her salary/wages--to give as tips to non-tippable employees, like kitchen employees, so no, this is illegal, and you could file a complaint with the labor department and/or sue (in small claims court or even regular district or county court, depending on how much is involved) for your money. The employer is free to give the kitchen staff a bonus or extra pay, and can even calculate it off gross sales--but it must be the *employer's* own money, not money taken from other employees.


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