NY court decision allows Starbucks shift supervisors access to tips

June 27, 2013

Starbucks baristas must split tips with shift supervisors, but assistant managers have no right to collect a share, according to a ruling handed down Wednesday by The New York Court of Appeals.

The dispute, which pitted low-level workers against assistant managers and the chain over who could receive cash tips from customers, was in connection with two lawsuits against the coffee giant. The chain has always allowed baristas and shift supervisors — but not assistant managers — access to tips.

During May court arguments lawyers representing baristas said shift supervisors shouldn't be eligible to collect tips since they earn a higher hourly wage and perform managerial duties. In a separate complaint, lawyers of former assistant store managers argued that they should be eligible, because they often serve customers.

The court ruled on the side of the shift supervisors:

"The [Department of Labor] has consistently and, in our view, reasonably, maintained that employees who regularly provide direct service to patrons remain tip-pool eligible even if they exercise a limited degree of supervisory responsibility," Judge Victoria A. Graffeo wrote in the ruling.

The court found, however, that assistant store managers are not eligible since they have more extensive managerial duties, including creating schedules and hiring and firing.

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Topics: Coffee / Specialty Beverages , Operations Management , Staffing & Training

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