Can your employer confiscate tips in order to pay inventory shortages?

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Can your employer confiscate tips in order to pay inventory shortages?

I work at a small business and my employers have been known to be a bit money hungry. Something they have recently begun doing is confiscating our tips in order to pay for “inventory shortages”. Although we have never seen these shortages, and we are not even allowed to count or keep track of how many tips they are taking. Is all of this legal?

Asked on May 28, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, an employer may not confisticate or withhold *any* compensation, including tips, for any reason, unless 1) the employee consents or agrees to it; or 2) it is required by law, such as tax withholding or court-ordered wage garnishment. So your employer may not withhold tips for alleged shorts. If the employer believes an employee has cost it money either by an intentional act (such as theft) or through negligence (or unreasonable carelessness), the employer has two options:

  • It can sue the employee for the money; to win, it would need to prove in court that the employee was at-fault, as described above, in causing its loss.
  • It can terminate any employee not protected by an employment contract whom it believes is costing it money.

However, it may not confiscate tips.


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