California Labor &
Employment Law Blog
Mar 30, 2009

Employees Who Do Not Provide Direct Table Service May Share Tips

Topics: Court Decisions

Altering a long standing interpretation of California law, on March 27California's Second District Court of Appeal in Etheridge v. Reins International California, Inc., held that California law does not restrict mandatory tip pools only to those employees who provide "direct table service" to the customer. The Court of Appeal extended the scope of who may participate in mandatory tip pools, holding that any employee who participates in the chain of service may be required to participate in the mandatory tip pool. The Court of Appeal distinguished California law from the FLSA, noting that the FLSA restricts mandatory tip pools to those employees who customarily receive tips whereas California law and section 351 of the California Labor Code contain no such restriction.

This is a stark change in prior interpretations so it will be interesting to see if the plaintiff's attorneys attempt to take this issue up with the California Supreme Court. The California Employment Lawyers Association filed briefs in support of the plaintiff in this matter and the California Restaurant Association filed briefs in support of the defendant/employer. We will continue to keep you posted on this and other tip pooling cases.

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For over 25 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
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