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Thread: Tipping out Hosts - New York

  1. #1
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    Default Tipping out Hosts - New York

    I am being trained at a restaurant as a server for which I am supposed to work. However, there is one reason I am seriously considering applying elsewhere: we are required to tip out 5% to the host staff, in addition to the standard 5% to the bartender, 15% to the runners, and 15% to the bus staff. From what I've observed so far in the training shifts (and in my past experience in working as a server), the hostess' role in assisting the table service staff is seating the guests, and that's it. No hustling, no taking drink orders, no assisting with bussing...just seating. Tips are given by our guests for the service to the table, during the mealtime, which is the performance waitor/waitress, the busser, and the runners. I do not see why the hostess (who, if I'm not mistaken, is paid at least minimum wage) should receive money for which the servers have worked hard. I mean, I would understand if they seated and took drink orders and delivered drinks or something similar, but their only requirement in helping us is to seat our guests. And even when they are seating someone and a few other parties are waiting, the manager or sometimes a server will seat them. So in tipping them 5% to make up their salary, I'd pretty much be paying them for something they wouldn't be doing.

    I've discussed this with two people (one of whom is also a server), and they both declare that tipping out the host staff is illegal, and I shouldn't work for a place that is too cheap to pay a decent amount to the host staff so they must rely on other employees' pay.

    Is it really illegal? I don't intend to report on this, but it just doesn't feel right to me.

  2. #2
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    Including host/hostess in the tip pool is not illegal at the Federal level. FWIW, the host/hostess is my first contact with the restaurant staff and the first impression I receive from that contact will have a LOT to do with my tip.

    From the US Dept of Labor web site

    Hosts and hostesses welcome guests and maintain reservation or waiting lists. They may direct patrons to coatrooms, restrooms, or to a place to wait until their table is ready. Hosts and hostesses assign guests to tables suitable for the size of their group, escort patrons to their seats, and provide menus. They also schedule dining reservations, arrange parties, and organize any special services that are required. In some restaurants, they act as cashiers.

    Median hourly earnings of hosts and hostesses were $7.52 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $6.48 and $8.63. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $5.77, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $10.49 an hour. Wages comprised the majority of their earnings. In some cases, wages were supplemented by proceeds from tip pools.
    (emphasis added).

    And this on tip pooling, also from the DOL.

    Tip Pooling: The requirement that an employee must retain all tips does not preclude tip splitting or pooling arrangements among employees who customarily and regularly receive tips, such as waiters, waitresses, bellhops, counter personnel (who serve customers), busboys/girls and service bartenders. Tipped employees may not be required to share their tips with employees who have not customarily and regularly participated in tip pooling arrangements, such as dishwashers, cooks, chefs, and janitors.
    Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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    i suggest getting a new job asap.

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    I don't see anything wrong with tipping out the hostess, but I DO think that the percentage you are tipping out is above a reasonable tip out amount. Are you saying that you tip out 40%? (5%/hostess, 5%bartender, 15% bussers, AND 15% runners?)
    HOOK 'EM HORNS!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by mommyof4 View Post
    I don't see anything wrong with tipping out the hostess, but I DO think that the percentage you are tipping out is above a reasonable tip out amount. Are you saying that you tip out 40%? (5%/hostess, 5%bartender, 15% bussers, AND 15% runners?)

    I missed that, mommyof4. I would opine that such a high percentage almost certainly be illegal. You can't tell me that 40% is "customary and reasonable". It definitely isn't "reasonable".

    Tipped employees cannot be required to contribute a greater percentage of their tips than is customary and reasonable.

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    I noticed the extraordinarily high percentage, but refrained from commenting on it.

    The 5% for the hostess and bartender, not so bad, but 15% for bus staff and another 15% for runners?
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    See below (I have no idea how I did that)
    Last edited by ScottB; 10-21-2006 at 06:29 AM.
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    Interesting court decision involving hosts, servers and restaurant re: tip outs.

    First, the Court held that the hosts/hostesses are permitted to receive a share of the tip pool.

    Second, the court was unconcerned that the tip out came to 37.5% of tips received and ruled in favor of the restaurant.

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bi...ase&no=980325p
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    Ouch

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    Having worked in the restaurant business for WAAAY too long (bartender, waitress, managment) I can tell you that if I was ever expected to tip out anywhere near this amount, the only thing anyone would see of me is my apron hitting them in the face while the door swung behind my behind.

    Don't get me wrong...I am not arguing with you and the information you have provided. I am just, in a round about way, telling the OP to look for a different job.
    HOOK 'EM HORNS!!!
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    I agree! When I was a hostess, the first person to see was me, I set the atmosphere, if I was in a bad mood, the patrons would sense it. I never expected a tip, I just was happy to recieve one. When I waitressed, I tipped out 20% evenly to everyone, it was not expected, but I knew that if I did, they would do a better job making my customers happy. I think the percentage is crazy though (the one above). I would poster, ask around to other restaurants, and see what their tipping requirements are. Sorry you have to tip out so much. I would also see if it effects what you have to claim on your taxes in tips, since you are not recieving what they think you are.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mommyof4 View Post
    I don't see anything wrong with tipping out the hostess, but I DO think that the percentage you are tipping out is above a reasonable tip out amount. Are you saying that you tip out 40%? (5%/hostess, 5%bartender, 15% bussers, AND 15% runners?)
    Yes, I believe it's a ghastly 39-40% (for dinner, the bussers are tipped 14%, which I don't understand). Probably because it's quite an upscale restaurant, they figure servers can afford to tip out that high.

    I would also see if it effects what you have to claim on your taxes in tips, since you are not recieving what they think you are.
    Actually I think it doesn't because tips are reported after you tip everyone out.

  13. #13
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    I'm glad they are reported after tipping out lol!

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