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Restaurants Can't Force Their Servers to Share Their Tips Anymore

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has rendered a decision invalidating State laws forcing servers and casino dealers to hand over their hard-earned tips to their bosses in order to be redispersed among the service industry “have-nots.”

There is an assumption that tip-earning servers on the front lines of the customer charm offensive have it way better than the back-of-house staff, whose job it is to burn themselves and toil in soapy dishwater with no prospect of extra cash.

Some businesses have attempted to balance this inequality by redistributing the tips earned from service staff among the unsung heroes of the restaurant industry, like prep cooks and dishwashers.

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But the truth is that the life of the server is hardly lavish, and tips are often a matter of survival for waiters and waitresses who are frequently confronted with the bleak reality of food stamps.

READ: Restaurant Workers in the US Are Flat Broke

Luckily for them, a federal court has just rendered a decision invalidating State laws forcing servers and casino dealers to hand over their hard-earned tips to their bosses in order to be redispersed among the service industry "have-nots."

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2011 U.S. Labor Department rule which it found to be "reasonable and consistent with Congress' goal of ensuring tips stay with employees who receive them," according to the Associated Press.

Though this ruling overturned regulations in place in Nevada and Oregon, it would technically apply to any other state which requires workers to be paid the state minimum wage in addition to tips, namely Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

"The premise is the tip is never the employer's," Reuel Schiller, a labor law professor at the University of California, Hastings in San Francisco told AP. "The employer doesn't have the power to take that from the waiter and give it to a dishwasher because it's not the employer's money."

While tips are now safe from the redistribution of wealth—that great enemy of American liberty—Paul DeCamp, a lawyer for the restaurant and lodging associations, told AP that the there was "a decent chance one of the plaintiffs would appeal."