Employment Lawyers Serving Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties

What Is a Tipped Employee in California?

In California, a tipped employee is an individual who earns money directly from customers through tips or gratuities for the goods sold or services rendered. This includes any money that has been paid, given to, or left for an employee by a customer over the amount due for the service provided or goods sold.

Tips or gratuities are considered the property of the employee who receives them, not the employer. This means that employers are prohibited from taking any portion of a tip left for an employee. Furthermore, California law mandates that tipped employees must be paid the full state minimum wage before tips, distinguishing it from some other states where employers can pay a lower direct cash wage to tipped employees as long as their tips bring their earnings up to the state’s minimum wage.

The legal framework in California also allows for the creation of tip pools, under the condition that the pooling arrangement is only among employees who typically receive tips, excluding managers or supervisors with the authority to hire and fire employees.

What Laws Protect Tipped Employees in California?

In California, tipped employees are protected under several laws that ensure their rights to their tips and fair wages.

Wage Theft Laws: California law prohibits employers from taking any part of a tip that is left for an employee. Under this section, tips are considered the sole property of the employee or employees to whom they are given. Employers are forbidden from deducting tips from wages or using them as a reason to pay workers less than the California minimum wage.

Minimum Wage Laws: California law mandates that all employees, including those who earn tips, must be paid at least the state minimum wage. This rate varies depending on the size of the employer but is higher than the federal minimum wage. This rule is crucial for tipped employees, as it ensures that tips are an addition to a fair base pay rather than a substitute for it.

Tip Pooling Laws: While employers cannot take tips, California law does allow for tip pooling among employees who typically receive tips. However, the law sets clear guidelines on how tip pooling can be implemented, generally excluding managerial or supervisory staff with the authority to hire or fire employees. This ensures that tips are distributed among those employees who directly contribute to the service provided.

Overtime Laws: Tipped employees in California have the same rights to overtime pay and breaks as non-tipped employees. This includes receiving overtime pay for hours worked beyond the standard workweek or workday and being entitled to meal and rest breaks.

Why Contact an Employment Attorney for Questions about Tips and Gratuities?

Contacting an employment attorney in Southern California for questions and concerns about tips is essential for several reasons, especially given the complexity of employment laws in the region. Here are some key reasons why reaching out to an employment lawyer at Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C.  can be beneficial if you’re facing issues related to tips:

Knowledge of State and Federal Laws: California’s labor laws, including those concerning tipped employees, are among the most employee-friendly in the United States. However, they can also be complex. Employment attorneys in California can provide clarity and guidance on both state-specific regulations and how they interact with federal laws. This expertise ensures that employees fully understand their rights and employers comply with the law.

Navigating Tip Pooling Issues: California allows tip pooling under specific conditions, but there are strict rules about who can participate in the pool and how tips are distributed. An employment attorney can help employees determine if their employer’s tip pooling practices are lawful and advise on the steps to take if they’re not.

Addressing Unlawful Deductions or Wage Violations: If an employer unlawfully withholds tips or uses them to make up the difference to reach the minimum wage (which is not allowed in California), an employment lawyer can help recover owed wages. They can assist in filing claims and represent employees in disputes or litigation to ensure they receive the compensation they’re entitled to.

Protection Against Retaliation: Employees may fear retaliation from their employer for raising concerns about tip practices or other wage and hour violations. Employment attorneys can offer legal protection and counsel on the best course of action, ensuring that employees can assert their rights without fear of unjust consequences.

Legal Representation: In cases where legal action becomes necessary, having an experienced employment attorney is invaluable. They can provide representation in court, arbitration, or mediation, helping to navigate the legal process and advocating on behalf of the employee for a fair resolution.

Given the potential complexities surrounding tipped employment in California, consulting with an employment attorney at Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C. can provide critical support and protection for employees. Whether it’s understanding your rights, addressing violations, or seeking restitution for unfair practices, our lawyers can offer the expertise and advocacy needed to navigate these issues effectively. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. – Championing Employee Rights In Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties

Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C., has a focus in employment law and stands ready to assist employees who are dealing with unjust workplace situations.

When you reach out to us, an experienced attorney will be on the line to listen to your concerns and provide expert legal advice. We offer a complimentary initial case review, giving you the opportunity to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable lawyer without any upfront costs.

Contact us now at (818) 509-9975 to schedule your complimentary case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tips and Gratuities

My employer often takes the credit card processing fees out of my tips. Are they allowed to do this?

No. According to Labor Code Section 351, your employer must pay you the full amount of the tip that the customer left for you. Your employer cannot take out credit card processing fees or charges from the credit card company.

I am a waiter and my boss told me that I must share my tips with other employees. Do I have to do this?

Yes. Involuntary tip pooling is allowed under California law so long as the tips are shared with employees to whom the tip was paid.

Can tips be considered part of my regular pay rate when calculating overtime?

No. Because tips are left voluntarily by customers and are not paid to you by your employer, they do not count towards your pay rate.

Is my employer allowed to deduct tips from my paychecks?

No. Your employer cannot take any part of your tips and cannot deduct your tips from your wages.

My boss said that he can pay me less than minimum wage since I will make up the difference in my tips. Is this legal?

No. Your employer cannot use any amount you earn as tips as credit towards its obligation to pay you the California minimum wage. In California, you must receive the minimum wage regardless of how much extra money you receive in tips.

Featured Statutes Regarding Tips and Gratuities

Cal. Lab. Code § 351

No employer or agent shall collect, take, or receive any gratuity or a part thereof that is paid, given to, or left for an employee by a patron, or deduct any amount from wages due an employee on account of a gratuity, or require an employee to credit the amount, or any part thereof, of a gratuity against and as a part of the wages due the employee from the employer. Every gratuity is hereby declared to be the sole property of the employee or employees to whom it was paid, given, or left for. An employer that permits patrons to pay gratuities by credit card shall pay the employees the full amount of the gratuity that the patron indicated on the credit card slip, without any deductions for any credit card payment processing fees or costs that may be charged to the employer by the credit card company. Payment of gratuities made by patrons using credit cards shall be made to the employees not later than the next regular payday following the date the patron authorized the credit card payment.

Cal. Lab. Code § 353

Every employer shall keep accurate records of all gratuities received by him, whether received directly from the employee or indirectly by means of deductions from the wages of the employee or otherwise. Such records shall be open to inspection at all reasonable hours by the department.

Cal. Lab. Code § 356

The Legislature expressly declares that the purpose of this article is to prevent fraud upon the public in connection with the practice of tipping and declares that this article is passed for a public reason and cannot be contravened by a private agreement. As a part of the social public policy of this State, this article is binding upon all departments of the State.

Contact Us When You Need an Employment Law Attorney in Los Angeles,  Bakersfield ,Orange, Oxnard, Riverside, or San Bernardino

Call us today at (818) 509-9975 or contact us online to schedule a complimentary case evaluation. We have extensive experience in all aspects of employment law, including wage hour law.

Areas Served

The litigation and trial attorneys of the Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. provide services throughout Southern California including but not limited to AdelantoAgoura HillsAlhambraAliso ViejoAltadenaAnaheimApple ValleyArcadiaArletaAtwater VillageAzuzaBakersfieldBaldwin ParkBanningBeaumontBellBell GardensBellflowerBeverly HillsBlytheBoyle HeightsBreaBrentwoodBuena ParkBurbankCalabasasCalimesaCamarilloCanoga ParkCanyon LakeCarsonCathedral CityCerritosChatsworthChino HillsChinoClaremontCoachellaColtonComptonCosta MesaCoronaCovinaCulver CityCypressDana PointDesert Hot SpringsDiamond BarDowneyDuarteEagle RockEast HollywoodEast Los AngelesEastvaleEcho ParkEl MonteEl SegundoEl SerenoEncinoFontanaFountain ValleyFullertonGardenaGarden GroveGlassell ParkGlendaleGlendoraGranada HillsHacienda HeightsHawthorneHemetHesperiaHighland ParkHighlandHollywoodHollywood HillsHuntington BeachHuntington ParkIndian WellsIndioInglewoodIrvineJurupa ValleyLa Canada FlintridgeLa-Crescenta MontroseLa HabraLa MiradaLa PalmaLa PuenteLa QuintaLa VerneLaguna BeachLaguna HillsLaguna NiguelLaguna WoodsLakewoodLake BalboaLake ElsinoreLake ForestLancasterLawndaleLincoln HeightsLoma LindaLong BeachLos AlamitosLos AngelesLos FelizLynwoodManhattan BeachMar VistaMaywoodMenifeeMission HillsMission ViejoMonroviaMontclairMontebelloMonterey ParkMoorparkMoreno ValleyMurrietaNewbury ParkNewhallNewport BeachNorcoNorth HillsNorth HollywoodNorthridgeNorwalkOntarioOrangeOxnardPacific PalisadesPacoimaPalos VerdesPalmdalePalm DesertPalm SpringsPanorama CityParamountPasadenaPerrisPico RiveraPlacentiaPomonaPorter RanchRancho CucamongaRancho MirageRancho Santa MargaritaRedondo BeachResedaRialtoRiversideRosemeadRowland HeightsSan BernardinoSan ClementeSan DimasSan GabrielSan FernandoSan JacintoSan Juan CapistranoSan PedroSanta AnaSanta ClaritaSanta MonicaSawtelleSeal BeachShadow HillsSherman OaksSilver LakeSimi ValleySouth El MonteSouth GateSouth PasadenaSouth WhittierStantonStudio CitySun ValleySunlandSylmarTarzanaTemeculaTemple CityThousand OaksToluca LakeTorranceTujungaTustinTwentynine PalmsUplandValenciaValley GlenValley VillageVan NuysVenturaVictorvilleWalnutWest CovinaWest HillsWest HollywoodWest Puente ValleyWestchesterWestminsterWestwoodWhittierWildomarWinnetkaWoodland HillsYorba Linda