Can a fast food chain put cups out for customers to tip?

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Can a fast food chain put cups out for customers to tip?

I live in NYC and I came across a fast food chain at a particular location with a tip cup and a sign on it saying “tips appreciated”. Is that legal? Do servers at a restaurant have to share tips? They are usually put in a bucket and counted at the end of their shifts and divided equally?

Asked on May 24, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:

1) Can a fast food place put out a cup for tips? Absolutely. There is no general law against any worker, in any context, asking for tips--though certainly the rules or regulations pertaining to specific jobs (e.g. government may prevent it).

2) What is done with the tips--it is legal to either have each server keep his or her own tips or to pool and distribute them at the end of the shift. (If pooled, only serving personnel, not, for example, cooks or managers, may share in it.) While they have to comport with labor law, this is an internal issue that does not need to concern patrons; they should tip, or not, based on service, not on the tip policy of the place.


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