California Labor and Employment Defense Blog

Court Rules Starbucks Owes $105 million In Tip Pooling Case

The award represents an estimated amount of cash from tip pools that shift supervisors received between October 2000 and February 2008. The plaintiffs maintained that the shift supervisors were considered managers under California law, and therefore improperly participated in sharing in the tips placed in the tip jar.  California law prohibits managers from participating in tip pooling arrangements. 

Plaintiff’s used experts to provide an estimated the hourly tip rate. Based on a sampling of 250 stores in California, the experts determined that amount due to the class members was $1.87, plus or minus 16 cents per hour worked by the shift supervisors. While this amount does not seem to be much, it adds up when dealing with 120,000 current and former baristas who worked for Starbucks during the eight years at issue.

While there was a rash of tip pooling class action filed in California about two years ago, it appeared that this type of case was losing the interest of the plaintiff’s attorneys. However, once this judgment becomes commonly known, business owners can be sure that tip pooling cases will continue, if not increase in the coming year or two. Now is a good time to ensure that that a company’s tip pooling policy complies with California law. Our prior posts on this case can be read here.
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