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 fked up. That ain’t my fault. It would seem to me that waitresses are one of the many groups the government fks 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

Filed Under: ,
Companies: starbucks

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Lawsuit Over Who Gets Starbucks Tips”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

“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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

out_of_the_blue says:

"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.

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

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.

horse with no name says:

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?

EZ-EC says:


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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...