As an hourly worker in a service position who receives gratuities, you work hard to please your customers in order to maximize your income during any given shift. The better your work, in theory, the better your compensation for the day. 

Some restaurants or bars will require that their staff members pool their tips. This is done to ensure fair and equal wages and to prevent things like appearance discrimination from limiting certain workers and benefiting others. 

Unfortunately, some bosses or business owners will abuse the tip pooling system and try to take a share for themselves. Is tip pooling legal in California, or is it a violation of your wage rights? Can a manager or business owner claim a share of the pool tips?

Tip pooling itself is legal in California

While people may have complaints about the practice of tip pooling, the law in California support or at least allows the practice. It is not illegal for a business to require that all tipped staff members pool their tips and share them equally among the staff members working to provide customer service, even if they don’t interact directly with customers. 

Those not in the chain of service can’t collect tips for themselves

While it is okay to require that everyone pools their tips so that the bussers and bar staff receive their fair share of the gratuities, it is not acceptable for those who do not either work in service or directly support the service of customers to make a claim toward a portion of those pooled tips. Managers and business owners typically should not take a portion of the tips unless they perform the same service-related tasks as the other staff and rely on tips for their income as well. 

If you think that you’ve been unfairly cheated out of your wages or tips, find out more about your legal rights. A California attorney can help you determine your options.