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Is tip sharing legal in California?

Some businesses pay their workers less than minimum wage legally because those workers receive gratuities from customers. Tipped positions usually come with a lower hourly wage, but workers can potentially earn good money if they provide excellent service.

When you work hard for your tips, you want to keep that money. Unfortunately, some managers or employers will demand that you pool your tips with other employees. Is that legal, or is it a form of wage theft?

You may need to share with other staff members

The service that you provide is often dependent on background support from other staff members. A busboy clears the plates from the appetizer so that you can bring out the next course without delay. A bartender mixes drinks, and the person working the front door organizes the flow of customers and brings new people to your section. You may need to share a portion of your tips with each of the other workers who helped you provide your service, as long as such requirements are applied universally.

Your boss cannot demand a share

Sometimes, tip sharing is a thinly veiled way for a manager or a restaurant owner to pocket some of the money that their workers have earned after already profiting off of their labor. Someone not involved in the service, whether they are a manager sitting in the back office or an owner who just comes in to check the sales total at the end of the night, has no entitlement to share in your tips.

If your employer has forced you to share your gratuity with the owner or manager, they may have violated your rights. Realizing that you could bring a wage claim against the business can help you recover all of those lost funds.

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