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

UPDATED: May 28, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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