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Are You Entitled to Unpaid Tips or Service Charges? Discuss Your Rights with a Los Angeles Unpaid Wage Lawyer

For many employees in California, tips account for the majority of their income. These employees rely on customers’ tips to pay their bills, and they work hard to earn as much income as possible. So, when their employers take their tips, this is a big deal. If you are dealing with this situation, you should speak with a Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer promptly.

In recent years, many companies have begun using service charges as a way to increase their revenue. While employers are entitled to keep these service charges in most cases, there are exceptions. Service charge disputes are becoming increasingly common, and if you believe that you are entitled to a portion of your employer’s service charges, a Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer at Attorneys for Employees (AFE) can help you in this situation as well.

Understanding Employees’ Rights to Tips in California

Employees are clearly entitled to all tips their customers pay under California law. Section 351 of the California Labor Code provides that a tip is, “the sole property of the employee or employees to whom it was paid, given, or left.”

This means that employers are not entitled to retain or withhold tips paid to their employees. While employers may pool tips so that dishwashers and other employees receive a share of customer gratuities, employers may not keep any portion of their employees’ tips for themselves.

Understanding Employees’ Rights to Service Charges in California

But, service charges are different. As the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) explains, mandatory service charges are “amounts owed by the patron to the establishment and are not gratuities voluntarily left for the employees.” As such, service charges are not classified as gratuities, and this means that “when an employer distributes all or part of a service charge to its employees, the distribution may be at the [employer’s] discretion.”

Importantly, however, some localities specify that servers and other employees are entitled to service charges—and when a local regulation is more protective than California law, the local regulation controls. For example, Section 4.62.040 of the Santa Monica Municipal Code provides that “[a]n Employer shall distribute all Service Charges in their entirety to the Employee(s) who performed services for the customers from whom the Service Charges are collected.”

Filing a Tip or Service Charge Dispute as an Employee

If you are an employee in Los Angeles and you believe that you are entitled to unpaid tips or service charges, the first step toward filing a claim is to consult with a Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer. At AFE, we have decades of experience protecting employees’ rights. Our lawyers can determine if you have a claim for unpaid tips or service charges—and if you do, we can use our experience to fight for the financial compensation you deserve.

Discuss Your Unpaid Tip or Service Charge Claim with a Los Angeles Unpaid Wage Lawyer

To learn more about filing a claim for unpaid tips or service charges, please call 310-601-1330 or contact us online. We will arrange for you to speak with a Los Angeles unpaid wage lawyer in confidence as soon as possible.