I work at a locally owned and operated pizza place, which is part of a larger franchise with stores all over the country owned by several different owners. The owner of my location does not let us have a tip jar, and any tips written on the receipt go to the "store" and our fixed amount Christmas gift cards. We don't get any tips at the end of night.

I've seen how much we make in tips weekly, and the store is making a lot more tips than it takes to give every employee one $25 gift card for the year. Is this legal, if so how?

Also, if anything breaks or the store needs a new broom for example. The money for this comes out of the tips... It just doesn't seem right.

I am located in Tennesse, US and tips range from $150-300 per week (depends on the time of year- we get more business in the summer). Minimum wage here $7.25/hr and starting wage at this pizza place is $8/hr.

  • 5
    Tip theft is illegal in at least some states in the US. Jul 4, 2018 at 4:31
  • 1
    As you're specifically asking about the legal aspect you might want to ask this on Law instead, though I think this meets our guidelines for legal questions.
    – Lilienthal
    Jul 4, 2018 at 6:40
  • 1
    should be asked on law, there are proper legal aspects to this question, OP should get a better response there.
    – bharal
    Jul 4, 2018 at 8:42

1 Answer 1


According to minimum-wage.org, it looks like your employer is meeting employment law by defining employees as not being tipped and paying them an amount over the minimum wage which does not vary if more or less money in tips is received.

From what I've seen [and Not A Lawyer], it doesn't look like the company is breaking any laws in relation to how it pays its staff.

It might be breaking laws in relation to how it represents tips to its customers, and if your employment contract specifies "plus tips", there might be grounds for civil action.

  • no, companies in Tennessee cannot retain tips nor distribute them to non-tip staff. But they can also drop wages to a low $2.~ if with tips the OP would still make minimum wage.
    – bharal
    Jul 4, 2018 at 8:41
  • @bharal - that would be the issue I mentioned between customers and the business. From the description in the question and the wage that's being paid, it looks like the company are defining Pythogen and colleagues as non-tip staff. Jul 4, 2018 at 8:52
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    no it is a legal issue, not a customer-relations issue. The legality extends to the distribution of tips.
    – bharal
    Jul 4, 2018 at 8:55
  • @bharal - No one suggested it was customer relations. It's about the legal contract between customer and business entered when a financial transaction was made. Jul 4, 2018 at 8:57
  • i'm no lawyer, but it is not about the contract between the customer & the business. eg, if i buy a shoe, and the shoe company takes my money and pays someone below-minimum wage. I'm not the party that was wronged, so I can hardly take action.
    – bharal
    Jul 4, 2018 at 8:59

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