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Court ruling on tip pooling affects restaurant workers and customers

Will restaurants be able to use tip pooling to redistribute servers' tips?
Will restaurants be able to use tip pooling to redistribute servers' tips?
Tzuhsun Hsu/Flickr

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It's a fight that pits waitstaff against other restaurant workers and proprietors. This month, a federal appeals court ruled that the Labor Department went beyond its authority when it issued regulations prohibiting the use of tips by an employer even when the employer does not take a tip credit.

If the Labor Department does not appeal, it means tip pooling can be used by restaurants to redistribute some of its servers' tips. Front-of-house staff will have to share with back-of-house staff - cooks and the like.

Some servers argue table service will decline if there is less incentive. Other advocates for workers say tip pools enable illegal wage theft by owners. Restaurateurs say overall dining experience is improved when everyone shares in gratuities. There are many more implications of tip pooling including paid sick days, minimum wage and even racial disparities at restaurants.

If you work in the service industry, how has this affected you? What are the ulterior consequences of tip pooling in this important industry?

Paul DeCamp, Lead counsel on this case for Oakland businesses in support of tip pooling; Previously, DeCamp ran the Wage & Hour Division of the Department of Labor; Partner with Jackson Lewis law firm based in Washington, D.C.

Teofilo "Teo" Reyes, Program Director, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) - founded in 2001, ROC United advocates to improve wages and working conditions for the nation's restaurant workforce.