I'll paint the picture.
You take your family out to eat to celebrate. The server is exceptionally nice and welcoming. They never forget to refill your drinks, they got your order right the first try and made sure you had an enjoyable time. For your server going above and beyond, you leave a nice tip for them as a thank you for their service.
But then you hear these stories or rumors that those tips all get pooled into a pile that just goes straight back into the business or restaurant. The servers get paid by the hour and any tipping goes back into the bottom line.
Well, as it turns out, not only is that not right, but it's also not allowed.
From Washington State Labor and Industries, Tips Must Be Paid to Employees.
A tip is a voluntary sum of money that a customer freely gives to an employee for services.
Under state law:
Employers must pay all tips to employees.
The employer may not take tips for company use, or to pay employee wages.
“Tip crediting” isn’t allowed. Tips are in addition to, and not a part of, an employee’s state hourly minimum wage.
Tip pooling may be a thing where they all share proceeds or where those tips can be used to tip non-wait staff including dishwashers or bussers but those rules are on a place-by-place basis.
Some places may even establish a service charge. A service charge might replace the tip, but state law requires clear disclosure of who the service charge is going to.
If nothing is disclosed, or the disclosure is unclear, then the entire service charge must be paid to the employee who provides services to the customer.
So tip away if you feel like it knowing it's going straight to the person helping you and not the corporation.
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