Starbucks appeals $14.1 million tip-pooling class action suit

Coffee chain says it isn’t violating Massachusetts tip laws

Four years ago, experts noted an uptick in tip-pooling lawsuits—suits in which plaintiffs claim their employers’ policies of pooling tips among certain employees violate state employment laws. The increase was due in part to a string of suits in which Starbucks Corp. baristas filed proposed class actions against the coffee chain, arguing that the company’s tip-sharing policy—in which tips are pooled among baristas and shift supervisors—aren’t legal because supervisors have managerial responsibility and therefore shouldn’t be entitled to the tips.

One of the suits, Matamoros v. Starbucks Corp., claimed Starbucks’ tip policy violated the Massachusetts Tip Statute, which defines a tip as a “sum of money … given as an acknowledgment of any service performed by a wait staff employee.” The statute defines a wait staff employee as someone who directly serves food and beverages or clears tables in a qualifying establishment and has no managerial responsibility.

Ashley Post

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