Baristas Battle Starbucks Over Tip Sharing Policy

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The tip situation at Starbucks is a bit ajar.

Starbucks baristas in New York have banded together to fight a company policy that forces them to share their tips with higher-salaried employees, such as assistant managers and shift supervisors.

“This case goes way beyond Starbucks—this would be a huge win for the restaurant industry in general,” attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan asserted. “Restaurant workers are among the lowest paid workers in our economy…they depend on tips for their livelihood.”

The decision stands to impact workers at the 413 Starbucks stores across New York. In an interview with The Observer, Starbucks defended its tipping policy as fostering an accurate reflection of customer service.

“Customers should have the option to reward our employees for providing great service,” company representative Zack Hutson said. “Shift supervisors spend well over 90 percent of their time providing the same world-class customer service as baristas.”

These hearings come just a few months after a similar case, also led by Ms. Liss-Riordan, appeared in the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of the baristas’ exclusive tip jars. In the decision’s aftermath, Starbucks raised the shift supervisor starting wage nearly $3 in compensation.

The case is currently in the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.