NY Starbucks Tip Fight Percolates Beyond Java Giant

May 21, 2013 – In The News

Carolyn Richmond was quoted in the Law360 article "NY Starbucks Tip Fight Percolates Beyond Java Giant." While the full text can be found in the May 21, 2013, issue of Law360, a synopsis is noted below.

Restaurateurs argue the outcome of a New York court case over which Starbucks employees get tips could subject the state’s hospitality industry to devastating liability, while plaintiffs’ lawyers say the bosses see this court battle as an opportunity to cut payrolls by spreading tips to more employees.

New York Labor Law Section 196-d, bans all supervisors from being paid from tip pools, but lawyers for Starbucks argue the law gives the employer discretions as to who receives tips.

There are currently two cases that will be heard by the New York State Court of Appeals, one with baristas as the plaintiffs, trying to stop supervisors from taking from the tip pool, and one with assistant store managers arguing that they should be allowed to collect tips.

“You have two different sets of plaintiffs in this case, arguing from two different positions,” said Carolyn Richmond, who wrote a brief supporting Starbucks on behalf of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. “It’s the height of irony.”

“It’s important not to look at the job titles. You have to look at the job function,” Richmond said.