Florida, like many other states, abides by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA designates tips as the sole property of the tipped employee. Any employer who tries to blatently steal an employee’s tips is breaking the law.
Tip pooling arrangements
Although there are regulations around an employee’s tips, employers may arrange a tip pooling or sharing scheme. Such an arrangement involves employees putting a portion of their tips into a common pool, which then gets distributed equally among a group of employees. Although employers can require employees to contribute to a tip pool, they cannot retain any part of it. Only employees who regularly receive tips can participate in the tip pool.
Minimum wage requirements
Florida law mandates that employers pay tipped employees a minimum cash wage. If an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s cash wage do not equal the minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference.
Employer violations and employee rights
If an employer unlawfully keeps an employee’s tips, the employee could recover the full amount of the tip plus double the underpaid minimum wage. The employer can also face a penalty for violating the law.
In cases of dispute, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor provides resources and information to help employees understand their rights and to assist in recovering any unlawfully retained tips.