Restaurant owner keeps server’s tips/ is this legal?

I recently started working at a family-owned restaurant in Beverly Hills, CA in a
server/cashier/barista position. I found out today that the servers do not keep
the credit card tips they received from customers while taking their orders.
Instead, the owner keeps them to help supplement the business’s income because
‘running a restaurant is expensive’ and that we don’t really deserve the tips
because we are behind the counter for too long and they dont need to let us keep
it because it’s a ‘fast casual’ restaurant. The place is doing very well for a
new business and while I understand that it cost money, I don’t think it’s right
to keep tips meant for servers when we work hard for them. When I asked if this
was illegal, she said no because it is fast casual. What does that even mean and
does that have any impact on whether we can keep our tips?

Asked on March 7, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

It is not legal: restaurants and their owners or managers may NOT keep tips left for tippable staff (e.g. waiters, bus persons, bar tenders). There is no exception for "fast casual": if a tip is left for the wait, etc. staff, it belongs to and must go to them.  The staff who are being deprived of their tips may wish to contact the state departmant of labor to look into filing a complaint.


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