On Notice

There’s a tired piece of corruption that unscrupulous restaurant owners and managers love foisting on hardworking waiters – tip stealing. Simply put, some managers insist on getting “tipped out” at the end of the night like a bus person or bartender. It’s almost always done in cash. Sometimes even the owners demand a percentage of the night’s gratuities. In many states, including New York, this is ILLEGAL.

A common tactic is screwing waiters out of the service charge on a large expensive party. For example, a party of 30 comes in and spends $5000. Four waiters are assigned to the party. There’s an 18% service charge of $900. The waiters end up getting $100 bucks a piece. Where did the other $500 go? Into the owner or manager’s pocket! A lot of waiters won’t fight it because they need their jobs or their bosses threatened to turn then into Immigration. Don’t think that shit happens? Trust me. It does.
(This scenario shouldn’t apply to banquet waiters. Correct me if I’m wrong.)

The Bistro where I work is fair and transparent concerning how we pay out tips. But I know plenty of places where management pulls crap like this all the time. Today they’re on notice! Why?

A restaurant in Massachusetts might have to pay 2.5 million dollars in assorted damages to wait staff whose tips were siphoned off by management. Four waitresses were fired after they had the audacity to complain to management about robbing them and breaking the law. Sad but typical.

Now they’re getting a boatload of money in compensation. Good for them!

Now will someone file a class action lawsuit against owners who make waiters pay some or all of the credit card transaction fees out of their tips? Please!

I hope this judgment puts greedy bastard restaurant owners on notice. Jerks.

27 thoughts on “On Notice”

  1. Keiko Q Waitress says:

    Is this illegal in California? Any info on this would be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. bruce says:

    I was involved in a class action suit

    against Mortons Steakhouse in Boston

    for just this problem of parties and management

    tips. Lets just say I cant work for Mortons

    again, but all of us involved got some


    Best of Luck.

    p.s. Shannon Liz Riordan, Attny in Boston

    specializes in these cases and may be able

    to assist you with California Law!

  3. Been There says:

    @Keiko Q Waitress, I’m a California server for 20+ years, pretty sure it is illegal in Calif., in fact there are a few class action suits going right now.

  4. Similar Problem says:

    In the state of Illinois, the restaurant is supposed to keep track of the tips waiters make and deduct social security and whatnot as the year goes on. I worked for a place that didn’t do that, so I had to fill out a form informing the government that my tips hadn’t been recorded. They fined the restaurant, but they also fined me!

  5. hyphen says:

    UGH! Thank you for mentioning having to pay the credit card fees. I have to do that where I work, not to mention having to tip out busboys who make much more an hour, when I’ve been bussing my own tables all night.
    You’re right though, who wants to be the one to bring it up?

  6. Mortons no more!!! says:

    Any one who wants to join a law suit against Mortons Steakhouse in Il, it is in the works. Contact lawyer is Jeff Brown in Chicago Il. Those dirty bastards made us sign a form that said that we could not go to court if we suied them (they knew what the hell they where doing was wrong) but we can go to arbitration and Morton’s has already admitted to wrong doing!!!! We deserve our money back with fines and interest on top!!!!

  7. KALIKRNGUYX says:


  8. Credit Card Fees? says:

    I’ve heard that businesses taking credit card fees out of servers tips is illegal? Is that true or is that just a frustrated server? I think it should be illegal, or at least set a minimal percentage that should be allowed… why should we have to pay for someone else using a credit card? Just doesn’t make sense….

  9. shannon weirmerscirtch says:

    I worked for Mortons on State st in Chicago and the mgt took 10% of my tips for years.

    Ten Percent!!!!!
    That is alot of money over the years!!

  10. shannon weirmerscirtch says:

    It is totally illegal what Mortons the Steakhouse has been doing for the past 30 yrs

    This company owes the waiters all of their money back!!

    Tom Baldwin said we gave this money because we wanted to…..WRONG!!!!!!!!!!! We had to pay our managers 10% of our tips

  11. shannon weirmerscirtch says:

    Mortons the steakhouse in chicago is just a corrupt as their Govenor.
    The waitstaff paid their managers wages for 30 years.
    The restaurant also charged the waitstaff for food. Hot dogs,frozen pizza .45cents an hour.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Any waiter in the Chicagoland area, present or former, can join the arbitration against Morton’s of Chicago. Call Peter Converse of Converse & Brown (312) 789-9700.

  13. Darren says:

    This is becoming more and more common. Unfortunately, Federal Law permits restaurant owners to charge customers a service fee and keep it as part of their gross receipts. Many are also using the credit card service fee loophole that is actually legal in some states. It’s sad that this has been allowed to go on for so long.

  14. HappyServer says:

    I am a server in Boston…

    1. The restaurant where I work tells us exactly how much we must tip bussers, bartender, food runners and even the glass polisher. It is my understanding that it is illegal in MA to force tip-outs, that it is strictly voluntary. Anyone know the truth to this?

    2. The restaurant also takes out American Express fees out of our cash payout.

    3. One night I had a table who had a great meal…no issues, they even paid me a generous tip, I forget, but about $50-$60. Upon leaving, one of the guest’s coat could not be found. The house decided to comp the entire meal to them to compensate for the loss of the coat. No sooner was this done than the coat was found, it had fallen off of a coat hanger to the floor. The house was not about to recharge the meal to the guest, but said that I had to take the loss of the tip. WHY????

  15. Kat says:

    That’s just wrong, in regards to credit cards I wish is was legal to pass it on to the customers 🙁

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  17. chaching says:

    i used to work for mortons as well. according to arbitration letters, the lost $12 million, half in cash and half in preferred stock options. the money i made there was easy money and good money. not working lunches was great. it was also the worst run company ive ever worked for in my life. corporate has no control of the employees. they deserve what they got and they know it.

  18. chaching says:

    mortons doesnt allow gratuity to be added to a check, ever. except for a boardroom, which is a private room (and managers still get tipped out on that!) little did they know we were doing it to almost every check for over 15 years. from a consumer standpoint that place is a complete ripoff. according to the arbitration, mortons starts sending out checks on a couple months, or the money the owe the servers grows with interest.

  19. Mortons'll get theirs says:

    Hey Chaching…which one did you work at?
    The managers were auto-gratting every check for 15 years?

  20. Kempeth says:

    About the credit card fee. You can simply turn it around like many shops do it around here. Increase the base prices by a bit and offer a reduction if you pay cash. That way you give an incentive to pay cash and get your expenses covered even when they pay plastic… All without screwing over anyone.

  21. ThePhantomWaiter says:

    I currently work for Mortons and am waiting for my check to come in. I agree that it is a load of crap that they still require servers to tip out managers for boardroom events. The managers are busy running the main floor and hardly ever set foot in the boardroom, other than maybe to audit the bill (a.k.a, make sure everything has been charged).

    That being said, I really like working for the company, and the restaurant I work at in particular. Most servers bitch about the restaurant they work in. I’ve worked in enough establishments to know that this place is a gem to work at from the standpoint of what they offer “YOU” as a server. The guests they attract SPEND MONEY, a typical 4-top runs over $500, putting a hundo in your pocket. And you are making at least $30 off of every duece…not to mention how expensive it gets for larger parties…If you want to bitch, leave and flip 35 cheap, money-grubbing low lifes at Applebee’s or something like that…you won’t know what you had till it’s gone.

  22. iluvny says:

    When are they sending out the checks? Are they sending the preferred stock first? Can you just turn around and sell the stock? Is the $$$$ coming in increments or in one check?

  23. YesIAmAWaitress says:

    It is NOT illegal to take credit card percentages from tips if they are being charged on them by the credit card companies. Besides, everyone is benefiting from a restaurant’s ability to take credit cards in the form of higher sales. I am a waitress and love to be one. But I do think it’s our responsibility to share in this charge and not leave it all on a business owner. That being said, the absentee restaurant owners and corporations can suck it. I’m basically talking about small restaurant owners who are owner/operators and work their asses off like the rest of us. Of course, my bosses are awesome and treat us great, so I’m happy to help in return.

    “Credit Cards: Where tips are charged on a credit card and the employer must pay the credit card company a percentage on each sale, then the employer may pay the employee the tip, less that percentage. This charge on the tip may not reduce the employee’s wage below the required minimum wage. The amount due the employee must be paid no later than the regular pay day and may not be held while the employer is awaiting reimbursement from the credit card company.”


  24. Paul Reid says:

    Michael T. Sweeney, Esquire, of Lyman & Ash is also a great lawyer who works out of Philadelphia for waiters in New York who have been screwed out of tips. 215-732-7040.

  25. umm...waiter? says:

    I recently went to a lawyer for something along these lines. I work in a restaurant that does tip-sharing. The managers that we work for get a full share of the tip pool. A few of my coworkers and I went to the lawyer to see if this was legal. The lawyer explained that the state (OH) looks at employees in two categories: exempt and nonexempt. This means they either can or they can’t get tips. This varies by state but, if a manager makes salary and does “exempt work” (hiring/firing for example) they CAN’T receive tips. They have to fit both qualifications. So, if a manager does “exempt work” but does not make salary, he or she CAN receive tips. Now I know that it is perfectly legal for my manager to hit on the girls at the host stand while I run my ass off and STILL collect his tips. Time to polish up that resume.

  26. Disgruntled Ex-Mortons says:

    Even though I have recently landed a much better position at a much better restaurant in my city I still despise Mortons. Their egotistical attitude really pisses me off. I’ve got some good dirt on my city’s location and would love some advice to know how to really stick it to’em. I have to get revenge on this management team. I was there for almost 5 yrs and finally had enough of the A.M.’s treatment of me and others. My actions got me fired but they completly fabricated a story which caused me to not be able to receive unemployment. Lemme know if anyone has any ideas…Thx:) ME

  27. ex morton's says:

    which Morton’s did you work at?

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