Can my employer keep some or all of my tips?

Frank S. Clowney III

Many service industry workers in the San Diego area rely on tips to supplement their wages. It is important that they understand the basics of tipping laws in California. This way they will know if their employer is unlawfully withholding tips or is failing to pay the minimum wage. If so, the employee may want to pursue a wage and hour claim.

Employers cannot keep workers’ tips

California law refers to tips as “gratuity.” Gratuity is defined as a tip or money paid or given to a worker by a patron above the actual amount owed for services rendered or goods sold. Under California law, employers are not permitted to share in or keep any portion of a tip left to an employee by a patron. In addition, employers may not make wage deductions from tips or use tips as a credit against a worker’s wages. Note that mandatory service charges are not considered tips under California law.

Is tip pooling legal in California?

Some employers mandate tip pooling, in which tips are combined and shared with all staff that provided services in the workplace. In California, tip pooling is legal as long as the tips do not go to the owners, managers or supervisors of the business. In addition, any mandatory tip pooling policies must be fair and reasonable.

Learn more about wage and hour claims

Those in the service industry who believe their employer is violating California tipping laws may want to learn more about wage and hour claims. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Service industry workers in California may find our firm’s website on wage and hour claims to be a useful source of information.