Starbucks Baristas Must Split Tips with Shift Supervisors Says Federal Court

Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) baristas must share their tips with shift supervisors, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday, Nov. 21. Judges concluded that supervisors spend nearly all their time performing the same customer-related duties undertaken by baristas, thus are entitled to receive tips.

Attorneys for the barista group, according to the court's decision, felt the supervisors were disqualified to receive tips because management employees are not eligible for tipping, but the three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.

The court pointed out that shift supervisors, like the baristas, are paid hourly and are part time employees.

"As their title suggests, however, shift supervisors have some supervisory responsibilities, such as assigning baristas to particular positions during their shifts, directing the flow of customers and providing baristas with feedback about their performance," stated the ruling.

Contrary to popular belief, shift supervisors only have slightly more responsibility than baristas and are not allowed to fire or discipline baristas. In addition to coaching baristas, their main roles include opening and closing stores, changing cash register tills and depositing money in the bank.

"Thus, while shift supervisors may be able to coach baristas, they cannot formally discipline them," the panel said. "On this record, no fact finder could conclude that shift supervisors have such a 'substantial' degree of 'managerial responsibility' that they are no longer akin to 'general wait staff.'"

In a report by the New York Times, employees at New York City Starbucks revealed that $1.20 to $1.80 an hour was the amount each barista earned in tips during a typical shift. Average salaries are around $10 after three years for both baristas and shift supervisors.

For more see:
This Associated Press article

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