Originally Answered: Can a workplace/ job / restaurant control what I get from my tips?
It depends where you are in the country, but in many states, management is within their rights to mandate involuntary tip pooling.
If they do this, you will not get your own tips back, but each member of staff will usually get an equal share of all of the tips.
However, this is not the case across the country. Some states do not allow involuntary tip pooling. Waiters are welcome to pool their tips, but cannot be forced to do so, as the tips belong to the employees, not the employer
If you are required to pool tips, you should check your state laws and ensure that they are complying with the requirements, and if not, you will not be participating so any more.
If it is legal to pool tips, you must ensure that the tip pooling agreement is in writing, was agreed upon before you started work and only includes the appropriate employees. If the tip pool is not valid for any reason, inform your managers of this, and set up a new valid tip pool.
If you are you should ask for a detailed breakdown of tips to be provided each week, and their distribution.
Managers, owners or supervisors, even if these people provide direct table service are not allowed to receive any payment from tip pools. If you see any tips going to them, then this is illegal, and you must insist that it stops immediately.
According to California Labor Code Section 351 "the tips are to be distributed among the employees who provide "direct table service." Such employees could conceivably include waiters and waitresses, busboys, bartenders, host/hostesses and maitre d’s. Employees who do not provide direct table service and who do not share in the tip pool include dishwashers, cooks, and chefs, except in restaurants where the chefs prepare the food at the patron’s table, in which case the chef may participate in the tip pool. Additionally, tip pooling cannot be used to compensate the owner(s), manager(s), or supervisor(s) of the business, even if these individuals should provide direct table service to a patron."
Managers cannot withhold any money from tips for "payment processing fees" where paid by card, and cannot use tips in calculating your hourly pay or overtime. In some states they cannot deduct tips from your regular pay in the form of tip credits or use them to cover any other payment they owe you. Furthermore, they cannot discriminate against you because you do not agree with this.
It is possible that tip pooling is built into your contract. Most states allow this, where the tip pooling arrangement is valid and only includes service employees who regularly and customarily receive tips as part of their job. Employees who do not customarily receive, on average, at least $30 per month in tips may not be part of a tip pool. Managers, owners or supervisors are also forbidden from taking part in tip pools, even if they regularly receive more than $30 per month in tips themselves.
However, if your contract states that the restaurant has a tip pool, and the tip pool is legal and valid, and laid out properly in advance of your starting, and you agree to this as part of your contract, then the tip pool is valid.
However, if the managers are not abiding by the terms of the tip pool to which you agreed, then this too is illegal
The only other exception is service charges reflected on the bill. These are NOT tips, and can legitimately be kept by the management. An example of this would be, for example, a 10% service charge for bookings of over 15 people, or a 15% service charge on banquets. Your employer can—and usually will—choose to share this with you, but that is at their sole discretion.
If you are being forced to share tips this may be illegal, and you should check your local labour laws insist that it stops.
In states where this is allowed, in various forms, you should ensure that managers and others who are not entitled to it are receiving any part of it, and it is being fairly and evenly divided up amongst those who have earned it.