Lawsuit Over Who Gets Starbucks Tips

from the too-much-tipping dept

Cross-posted from

I imagine Mr. Pink doesn’t tip at Starbucks. Hell, I don’t “tip” at Starbucks. Occasionally, I don’t feel like having 30 cents clanging around in my pocket all day, so I throw it in the tip jar. But there’s only so much I can pay for a cup of coffee in good conscience.

Apparently, there’s a lawsuit kicking around the New York Court of Appeals over who owns the tips at Starbucks. The baristas are fighting to keep control over the jar and not share the tips with assistant managers.

It’s kind of sad. At this point, why not just dump the tip jar out on the floor at the end of the day and watch them fight over it…

The Starbucks decision could have a significant impact on the hospitality industry in New York. Here’s a report from CBS News:

The Court of Appeals was asked by a federal court to interpret New York’s labor law and its definition of an employer’s “agent,” who is prohibited from tip sharing.

On one side are low-level baristas who serve customers and share tips weekly based on hours worked. On the other side are assistant managers who don’t get any gratuities and want some. In between are shift supervisors with limited management responsibilities who serve customers and also share tips.

Starbucks — which thinks that its assistant managers should not get tips — points out that their assistant managers are salaried full-time employees with performance-based bonuses. Lawyers for the assistant managers argue that they are not “agents” because they don’t have hiring and firing capabilities.

I feel sorry for these people, I really do. They shouldn’t have to fight over loose change. I do think that assistant managers are in the wrong; they get bonuses, and they knew damn well their jobs were not “tips” jobs when they signed up.

But this does, you know, illustrate a little bit of what Quentin Tarantino was getting at when he wrote that bit for Mr. Pink. Society somewhat arbitrarily decides which people get tips and which people don’t. It’s not like you are tipping your Starbucks barista for his or her specific skill and talent in pouring your coffee. Instead, you’re slavishly giving a billion-dollar corporation loose change because they put a freaking jar on the counter. I can see why the assistant managers want a cut.

Of course, if the assistant managers win, hospitality personnel will come out of the woodwork wanting tip money, and “mandatory gratuity” will go up. Middle-class customers will get screwed a little more, to help out lower-class service employees, who can’t otherwise get a living wage from their employers.

You know what I think?

“I’m very sorry the government taxes their tips, that’s f**ked up. That ain’t my fault. It would seem to me that waitresses are one of the many groups the government f**ks in the ass on a regular basis. Look, if you ask me to sign something that says the government shouldn’t do that, I’ll sign it, put it to a vote, I’ll vote for it, but what I won’t do is play ball.”

N.Y.’s top court to decide who can tap Starbucks’ tip jars [CBS News]



More stories from Above The Law


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    "why not just dump the tip jar out on the floor at the end of the day and watch them fight over it…"

    I think I'd learn to like coffee for that.

    On a more serious note:
    If I were an assistant manager for Starbucks, I'd tell these people to go screw themselves. I wouldn't want to be considered a tipped employee since they make as little as $2.13 an hour. I wouldn't want to risk my salary for just a few extra coins.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, May 31st, 2013 @ 2:59pm

    "Management" is always trying to chisel labor.

    There's no by-line on this, but it's fake Populism, besides a re-write of story I'd already seen, so perhaps the re-writer is Mike.

    You don't help labor by wimpy sympathizing, but by going after The Rich full tilt, full time. This is (as even implies above), just pitting one group of poor against others. Let's go after owners of Starbucks and require those paraistes to let go of just SOME of their obscene excess.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 3:08pm

    Re: "Management" is always trying to chisel labor.

    I also like potatoes. I'm glad you made that point, it makes feel like we're finally building a rapport.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    droozilla (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 3:10pm

    Here's a tip. Don't buy $6 cups of coffee.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 3:29pm

    Who should get the tip?

    You know who should get the tip? The person you give it to directly and nobody else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 3:29pm

    I think its a bit silly that management thinks it needs the loose change in a tip jar when they get salary pay and vacations while waiters and baristas don't even make minimum wage. If the courts entitle them to the tips, I hope the IRS takes double their tips and more in taxes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Chris-Mouse (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 3:45pm

    Sure, let the management have a share of the tips...
    ...but only if ALL workers are paid at least the minimum wage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 3:52pm

    This is one of many reasons I think tips just don't make sense.. in any industry and for any reason. Just pay people their wages. If people need tips to make a decent living, then that's just a sign that their employers aren't paying them enough. So fix that problem, don't bandage it over with tips.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    BentFranklin (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 3:53pm

    It would seem to me that waitresses are one of the many groups the government fucks in the ass on a regular basis.

    I know what my next Photoshop project is now!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, May 31st, 2013 @ 3:54pm

    I don't patronize Starbuck's. I never have and I never will.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 3:59pm

    Re:

    Shit if that were the case I think I'd be a regular. Hell the last time I went to a Starbucks was at least five years ago.

    I don't care if it had gold sprinkles it's not worth $8 "or whatever" for a fucking cup of coffee. That's why I make my own I know just how I want it and I get the same result every single time and it's better. A month without Starbucks and anyone could save enough to buy your own espresso machine.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    cryptozoologist (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 4:29pm

    but why is this a techdirt story?

    i am a techdirt reader, and i am glad you alerted me to this story, so thanks for that, but i don't see any technical angle on it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 5:05pm

    Re: but why is this a techdirt story?

    I was kinda thinking the same thing. This is a cross post from another blog site, so my guess is they have some kind of deal where they get to cross post a story every week and the other site chooses it...? Like you said, it's good to have a new reason to hate Starbucks, but I don't see how this post fits Techdirt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 5:09pm

    What this living wage thing and who decides it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Tom Landry (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 5:43pm

    "Hell, I don’t “tip” at Starbucks."

    and you're proud of that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 5:54pm

    Re:

    And make up the difference between what the ones who are getting the tips are making now, with what they'd be making under minimum wage, out of the potential bonuses or extra pay that the management would have gotten, just to drive home the point how insanely stupid their little bout of greed is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 7:53pm

    NO TIPS ALLOWED, EMPLOYERS MUST PAY PROPER WAGES
    FOR GODS SAKE HOW HARD UP ARE THESE MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 8:00pm

    Re:

    living wage is a wage big enough that an average person with average expenses for the place they live in can afford to have a place to live & food on the table and the opportunity to actually save some money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 8:15pm

    Re:

    Starbucks employees need tips, starbucks for some reason not ashamed by that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 8:26pm

    Hell, I don’t “tip” at Starbucks.

    How did I know, a TD writer, being a "TIGHTASS" with their money.

    I guess, being a freetard is a full time job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 31st, 2013 @ 10:38pm

    Re:

    If he was a "freetard" wouldn't he be making his coffee at home? I mean, isn't that your major complaint, that people don't pay the big corporations that already have billions of dollars and rip off those they're suppose to pay?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2013 @ 11:31pm

    Re:

    This post wasn't written by TechDirt

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Mr. Pink, Jun 1st, 2013 @ 6:31am

    Name

    Yeah, but why do I have to be Mr. Pink?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Wide Awake, Jun 1st, 2013 @ 7:05am

    $4-$5 cups of coffee

    I don't encourage this company's high priced coffee. I like strong coffee that no one make like I do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    [citation needed or GTFO], Jun 1st, 2013 @ 10:39am

    Fortunately, I'm not a coffee drinker.

    I can't stand that bitter taste and adding any sugar and/or whipped cream just packs on the unnecessary calories.

    I'll stick to iced green tea, unsweetened...occasionally sweetened with sucralose.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    horse with no name, Jun 1st, 2013 @ 7:27pm

    tips as income

    When a job depends on tips as a major part of the income, it would be sort of unfair if the tax department ignored it. In many places, minimum wage laws make a servers base salary lower, knowing that they have tip income.

    While it's perhaps silly to argue about it in a place like Starbucks, where the average tip might be lower, it's still a valid fight: who's income is it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 7:08am

    Re: tips as income

    "who's income is it?"

    The person who already paid income tax on it. Tips are donations.

    gratuity-something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    zerostar83 (profile), Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 11:04am

    Tips vs non-tips

    In California, tips aren't considered income, therefore "tipped minimum wage" doesn't apply. But I live in Colorado now, and I get paid less since I get tips. Also, managers there pretty much all work full-time hours, while the tipped employees all work 15-20 hours.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Miff (profile), Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 11:09pm

    Re: Re:

    The biggest coffee at Starbucks only costs $2.45...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2013 @ 7:16am

    Re:

    Being a solarpanelphile and idiot looks like a full-time job too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    EZ-EC, Jun 3rd, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    Baristas

    As a barista all I can say is wow. It is unfortunate that we don't receive tips individually but it helps protect the barista who is constantly on bar and rarely sees the cash side of things. At our store we average $1.34 per hour on tips as it is split between our team each at the beginning of each week. I agree that tips should not be necessary however the reality of a minimum wage part time job with bi-weekly paychecks is hard if you don't have good money sense. Tips are distributed each week and help us with either the most miniscule pleasures which others take for granted or things that are absolutely necessary like gas so you can get to work and food so we can make the drinks right the first time.
    Overall I agree with what this article said. They are told that they will not be receiving tips but that they will get performance bonuses. If you don't like not getting tips then don't take the promotion simple as that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This