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592612_interior_design_shots.jpgThe case of Chau v. Starbucks (2009) 17 C.A.4th 688 brought some clarity to tip pooling and who is entitled to share in gratuities (tips). In Starbucks, an employee brought a class action, alleging that his employer illegally required him to share his tips with management.

Chau was a barista, which is an entry-level, part time job serving coffee. Next to the cash register at many Starbucks is a tip “cube.” A gratuity is placed in the tip cube non-specifically for the customer service “team.” At the end of the shift, a shift supervisor (but not a manager) tallies the tips and apportions them equally to baristas and shift-supervisors that worked during the shift.

A shift supervisor does the same job as a barista 90% of the time, but also has some management-like responsibilities such as supervising employees, opening and closing the store, and making deposits into the safe. The next higher level of responsibility is a store manager, who has the authority to hire and fire. Starbucks wisely had a policy prohibiting its managers from sharing in tips.
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