Are tip pools legal in California?

California’s laws regarding tips are strict. Under California law, tips belong solely to workers. Owners, supervisors and managers may not take any portion of an employee’s tips. But there are situations in which this doesn’t occur, and employees lose out on their fair share of tips. Tip pooling, although legal, can be a way where employees lose their valuable tips.

Some employers in California insist that their employees pool their tips and distribute them among workers. Tip pooling is legal but there are strict guidelines.

Legal tip pooling in California includes:

  • Employees are part of tip pools including bussers, servers, hosts and bartenders.
  • Tips are divided equally among employees
  • Tips include those left on credit card receipts along with cash left over from tab and cash left for tip with customer’s tab.

Illegal tip pooling includes:

  • Tips shared with supervisors or owners
  • Tips shared with dishwashers, cooks and cashiers
  • Credit card processing fees deducted from tips
  • Tips that are divided disproportionately

A legal professional who is skilled in employment law can help a person who recognizes their employer’s illegal tip pooling. An attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding the lost tips and help their client get the pay they deserve. An attorney can help their client file a wage claim dispute with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. An employee can also bring a civil lawsuit, file a lawsuit for breach of contract, file a lawsuit against the employer for conversion or file a lawsuit under California’s Unfair Competition Law.