In Minnesota, gratuities are considered the property of the employee. Minnesota employers can be held liable if their tip sharing policies violate state or federal wage and hour laws. Our experienced employment attorneys have helped many employees recover lost tips and wages owed to them.

Can my employer require me to share tips?

Service employees, including wait staff, bartenders and other staff are often at the whims of their employers when it comes to tipping policies. Nationwide, many service positions involve sharing or pooling tips with other members of the staff. However, in Minnesota, no employer may require employees to share their gratuities or contribute tips to a fund or pool. Tips are considered the property of the employee directly serving the customer. (See Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Fact Sheet on Tip Credit, Tip Sharing, and Tip Pooling.)  

Do my tips count toward minimum wage?

No, tip credits are prohibited in Minnesota. Minnesota employers may not withhold tips and may not apply an employee’s tips toward the payment of minimum wage. Unlike other states that allow employers to reduce minimum wage so long as the employee earns enough in tips to make up the difference, Minnesota does not allow employers to count tips toward the employers’ minimum wage obligations. 

Under Minnesota law, individuals who perform the direct service should benefit directly from the gratuities paid. Minnesota courts have stated that tips belong to the employees and service workers cannot be forced to share their earnings.  If employees agree to share tips without employer participation or coercion, an employer may safeguard shared gratuities to be redistributed, but only for those employees who agree to share. When these amounts are turned over, the employer can report the amounts received as gratuities for tax purposes.

I don’t want to pool my tips, but I don’t want to lose my job—what can I do?

Minnesota courts have stated that pooling or sharing gratuities, “may not be a condition of employment.” Workers who feel coerced or pressured to participate in tip sharing can take legal action to protect their rights and earnings. Any employee who refuses to share tips and is harassed or coerced into participation should consult with an experienced wage and hour law attorney. Such policies could result in liability for employers and damages for employees.

Contact Our Minnesota Employment Lawyers 

If your employer forced you to pool or share tips with other employees, we want to hear from you. The employment lawyers at Wanta Thome are dedicated to protecting the wage and hour rights of Minnesota employees and provide a free initial consultation. Contact us to discuss your rights.

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