I live and work in North Carolina. I work as a waiter at a restaurant and I receive a cash wage of $2.13 per hour and I regularly receive tips. I am required to participate in a tip pool to pay our busboys and bartenders for their services based on total sales. I am regularly paying more than 15% in "tipout" and I do not receive a payout from the tip pool. This means I am only keeping at 79% - 82% of the actual tips I receive for a 2 week pay period. According to the fact sheet for the North Carolina Department of Labor (http://www.nclabor.com/wh/fact%20sheets/Tip_Credit.htm), employees must retain at least 85% of their tips for a tip pool to be considered as a valid pooling arrangement, therefore allowing my employer the "tip credit" of $5.12 per hour toward my wages. I asses that this invalidates the tip pooling arrangement. I still make above minimum wage.
Report it to the NC Wage and Hour Bureau. I have included a link to their website below.
This information is given for legal education only. It may not work for your specific situation. It is not legal advice, and I am not your lawyer. You have to find your own local lawyer to get legal advice and help with your problem.
Tips are generally the property of the employee that earns them, but a valid tip pool may redirect a portion of your tips to other employees that may traditionally receive tips or perform tipped work. Under Federal law, there is no percentage maximum that your employer may reduce your tips by in contributing to a tip pool, but under state law, N.C. General Statute 95-25.3(f), there is the requirement that no more than 15% of your tips be taken from you.
Here's the main issue, and why you'll need to consult with a lawyer: If your employer is covered by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, you may not have a claim unless you're not being paid overtime and minimum wage in an appropriate manner. If your employer is a smaller business, and is not covered by the FLSA, it may be required to follow the 15% maximum found in the Wage and Hour Act.
Please consult with an attorney in your area to discuss this issue further, and see if there is any way you can recover and stop this practice. You may or may not be able to depending on your circumstances and the nature of your employer.
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