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New Laws Prevent Restaurant Owners And Managers From Keeping Servers' Tips

Dahlia Bazzaz
A karmic tip jar inside 99W's 1950s themed concessions bar.

Hidden in the recently signed $1.3 trillion GOP spending bill were a few paragraphs that have huge implications for anyone who works in a bar or restaurant.

The bill clears up laws regarding the legality of what is called "tip pooling" — collecting and redistributing tips diners leave to members of restaurant staff.

Jon Green, a 21-year-veteran Portland bartender and restaurant worker, told OPB “Weekend Edition” host John Notarianni that Obama-era changes imposed limits that prevented kitchen staff from getting a cut of the tips and stopped managers from helping to distribute the money.

“Management was no longer able to dictate where those went,” Green said. “We had to pull back and it was left up to the server. We weren’t allowed to monitor it.”

The biggest benefit Green sees from the rule change is a new regulation barring supervisors from dipping into their employees’ tips.

“Managers and supervisors can no longer take part of that,” he said. “I’ve heard of managers and supervisors who take 2 to 3 percent out of the tip pool. That no longer is allowed to happen.”

Green said he welcomes the new laws, believing they will more equitably balance the share of a restaurant’s earnings across its staff.

“I believe it’s going to level the field a little bit more between the front of the house and the back of the house,” Green said. “It was so one-sided with the servers getting all the benefits and the kitchen getting none of those. The experience is what you’re tipping at a restaurant and bar, and a share of that experience goes to the kitchen. They’re helping us out as much as anyone else.”

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.