Chewing the Fat: Servers Split $270k Tip Pool

Think your server deserved a good tip? How 'bout the manager back there chatting up that cute trainee all night? Or the chef who overcooked your burger?

The question of who gets a hand on your tip dollars just cost Dallas-based Brinker International a good $270,000. The company behind Chili's and Macaroni Grill, among others, lost a court decision over the issue of tip pooling against a group of 54 employees/former employees. Their grievances stem from a company policy requiring servers to share tips with restaurant expediters. (Wait 'til they see how much they have to share with the lawyers!) According to the Nation's Restaurant News, the jury found the Brinker tip pooling illegal because expediters count as non-tipped employees.

Diners likely don't know how many restaurant employees are in on the tip system. Depending on the establishment, bus boys, food runners, restaurant hosts, bartenders and bar backs might share in your 15 to 20 percent.

While many of these need a portion of an evening's intake to balance out meager wages, there are plenty of examples in the industry of hourly and salaried employees--including managers, chefs and kitchen staff--getting in on the action. One example of this: Starbucks, whose managers got a cut from the tip jar until a March 2008 court decision.

Need to look into it, but here's guessing several AIG executives started out in restaurant or coffee shop management.

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