Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Starbucks Ordered to Pay More Than $100 Million in Back Tips

I found the story below rather thought provoking. Starbucks shift supervisors get a portion of the tips collected by the wait staff. One of their employees in California (where else) filed suit against the chain and won. The employee contended that the tips belonged to the person working for them and that Starbucks should pay Supervisors more.

On one hand, the employee knew the score when she took the job. If she didn't like it, she could have gone somewhere else. On the other hand, it's a tough thing to work your tush off for tips and have to give a portion away.

What about those stores, like Subway, Moe's and other similar fast food places, where there's a tip container at the cash register? All the tips are split between those behind the counter. I'd "assume" that the shift supervisor was back there working, too.

I guess I'd have to know a bit more info to really decide which way I would rule if I were in the judges place. Do the shift supervisors pitch in and carry stuff to the tables when it's busy to help the wait staff? In most places they'll grab a coffee pot and walk around refilling... But at Starbucks everyone is pretty much behind the counter, right?

Bad timing on this one for Starbucks. They're going through a bad patch at the moment and I understand they have the original owner back on the team helping to recapture the original mystique. They closed for an afternoon (or full day?) recently to retrain the staff across the country.

Read the story:

Starbucks Ordered to Pay More Than $100 Million in Back Tips
SAN DIEGO — A Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered Starbucks Corp. to pay its California baristas more than $100 million in back tips and interest that the coffee chain paid to shift supervisors.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett also issued an injunction that prevents Starbucks' shift supervisors from sharing in future tips, saying state law prohibits managers and supervisors from sharing in employee gratuities.

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