Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C.
Pyle, Rome, Lichten, Ehrenberg & Liss-Riordan, P.C The Labor, Employment and Class Action Attorneys
STARBUCKS TIPS CASES

We have filed cases against Starbucks in Massachusetts and New York on behalf of baristas challenging the company’s practice of requiring tips to be shared with shift supervisors.  While we agree that shift supervisors should be paid more than baristas to account for the additional duties they hold, we believe that the laws of Massachusetts and New York require that any pay received by supervisors come from the employer and not from a tip pool; the legislatures of these states have passed strict laws to protect the tips of non-supervisory service workers.

We have now won this issue in Massachusetts.  The federal courts in Massachusetts have agreed with our interpretation, ruling that Starbucks’ tip sharing policy violates the law of Massachusetts, which requires that only employees with no managerial responsibility may share in tip pools. The magistrate judge granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and class certification, which was affirmed by the district court in March 2011.  The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this decision in November 2012.  Thus, under this ruling, anyone who has worked as a barista for Starbucks in Massachusetts at any time since March 2005 is entitled to a refund from Starbucks of the amount of tips that they lost due to their sharing of tips with shift supervisors. We calculate that this amount comes to more than $20 million to date (including prejudgment interest and trebling of a portion of the damages as ordered by the court).  We will keep you posted about further proceedings and when we expect money to be distributed to the barista class in this case. 

In New York, the case is now pending at the state's highest court, the New York Court of Appeals. The federal trial court dismissed our case, finding that shift supervisors can participate in a tip pool under New York law. But when we appealed, the federal appeals court (the Second Circuit) granted our request to certify the case to the New York Court of Appeals for a definitive legal ruling on which employees may share in a tip pool.  We expect a ruling on the New York appeal sometime in 2013.

In 2008, a California court found Starbucks to be in violation of California law for allowing shift supervisors to participate in the tip pool. The court ordered Starbucks to pay back baristas more than $100 million for tips that were shared with supervisors. This ruling was reversed by an intermediate appellate court, and the California Supreme Court denied further review. The California law is written differently from the laws in Massachusetts and New York, and so we believe the appellate ruling has no bearing on our other cases, a conclusion with which the Massachusetts courts have agreed.

To read more about these cases, read the links below:

2nd Circ. sides with Starbucks in tip pool class action
Law 360 | November, 2013

Grande tips payoff for Starbucks baristas
Boston Herald | October, 2013

Starbucks baristas tip fight intensifies
ABC News | June, 2013

New York Court sides with Starbucks on tip rules
The New York Times | June, 2013

Who deserves Starbucks tips?
The Village Voice | May, 2013

Baristas battle Starbucks over tip sharing policy
New York Observer | May, 2013

Who are you tipping at Starbucks? NY top court to decide
MSN News | May, 2013

NY's top court to decide who can tap Starbucks' tip jars
CBS | May, 2013

NY Starbucks tip fight percolates beyond java giant
Law 360 | May, 2013

Starbucks restructures 'shift supervisor' position in Mass.
Nation's Restaurant News | January, 2013

Starbucks supervisors get a raise to make up for employee tip ruling
Boston Business Journal | January, 2013

Mission Accomplished: Starbucks supervisors can't share employee tips, will get raises & bonus to compensate
BostInno | January, 2013

Starbucks workers tip suit scores $14M win against coffee giant
Huffington Post | November, 2012

Starbucks ordered to serve up $14M in tip-pool suit
Law360 | November, 2012

First Circuit affirms win for Starbucks baristas over tip-sharing
National Law Journal | November, 2012

Court: Starbucks owes more than $14m to Mass. baristas
Boston Globe | November, 2012

Starbucks sued by Baristas, managers over tip-sharing
Lawyers.com | October, 2012

2nd Circ. sends Starbucks tip cases to NY high court
Law360 | October, 2012

Second Circuit stumped by Starbucks tipping cliams
The American Lawyer | October, 2012

Starbucks brews an appeal in case over tip splitting
National Law Journal | September, 2012

Starbucks Baristas ask 2nd Circ. to reheat tip sharing suit
Law 360 | August, 2012

Starbucks asks 1st Circ. to nix $14M damages over tip pool
Law 360 | August, 2012

Starbucks consents to $7.5M damages over shared tips
Law 360 | January, 2012

Baristas want Starbucks to pour out $32M in tip pool suit
Law 360 | December, 2011

1st Cir. lets class cert. stand for Starbucks baristas
Law 360 | June, 2011

Baristas' suit against Starbucks may proceed as class action in Mass. federal court
The National Law Journal | March, 2011

Starbucks supervisors can't share in tips, Judge says
Employment Law 360 | March, 2011

Starbucks unfairly split Mass. Baristas' tips: Judge
Employment Law 360 | February, 2011

Starbucks Baristas fight toss of tip-sharing action
Employment Law 360 | December, 2010

Calif. ruling doesn't slow Starbucks tips suit
Employment Law 360 | October, 2009

N.Y. baristas want class cert. in tips spat
Employment Law 360 | February, 2009

N.Y. barista is latest to sue Starbucks over tips
Employment Law 360 | April, 2008

Starbucks supervisors accused of skimming tips from baristas
Associated Press | March, 2008

Starbucks hit with class action lawsuit over tips
Boston Globe | March, 2008

Starbucks sued again over tip pools
Seattle PI | March, 2008


OTHER TIP CASES

SKYCAPS TIPS CASES »

ALL OTHER TIPS CASES »

Shannon Liss-Riordan & Hillary Schwab

Lawyer fights for low-wage workers' rights
Boston Globe | December, 2012

Audio clipVideo
Tip scams revealed
TedX Beacon Street | November, 2012

Audio clipVideo
Shannon Liss-Riordan

Visual Radio | February, 2013

Skycaps and waiters find a legal champion (front page)
Boston Globe | April, 2008

Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan: Challenging Corporate Power and Tips Abuse
Lawyers and Settlements
April, 2008

The Champion of Skycaps, Waitresses and Delivery Drivers
UK Progressive
August, 2008

Airlines scoop tips from skycaps
Lawyers and Settlements February, 2010

Audio clipVideo
Skycaps fight back
KTXA | April, 2009

Audio clip Audio Interview
Shannon Liss-Riordan discusses tips on Radio Boston
WBUR | May, 2008

 

 


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