Major Tip Sharing Decision: Nevada Supreme Court Says Casino Dealers’ Tips Can Be Shared

The Nevada Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in October that could have profound ramifications for the Las Vegas and Reno gambling industries.

Workers at Wynn Casino in Las Vegas alleged that their company illegally compelled them to share tips with their supervisors. Here are some key milestones in the case:

• In 2010, Nevada’s Labor Commissioner, Michael Tanchek, said that Wynn’s tip-pooling policy did not violate Nevada state law.
• In 2011, District Judge, Kenneth Cory, reversed the Commissioner’s ruling.
• In 2013, the Nevada Supreme Court flipped the decision once again, writing: “We hold that the District Court erred in overturning the Labor Commissioner’s decision, because the Wynn did not keep any of the tips from the pool; rather, the Wynn distributed the money amongst its employees.”
• The case will now head back to District Court, where parties will attempt to settle questions regarding minimum wage issues and rebates.

Why Tip Sharing Is Such a Contentious, Important Issue

Casino dealers, restaurant staff and other tipped employees need to money they get from tips to meet their budgetary needs. Even a small “cut” into the tip pool can have wide ranging, constraining effects on these workers and their families. Some studies also suggest that cutting tip profits can de-motivate employees. This makes sense. If you know you won’t be able to keep your tips, you might not be as willing to “go the distance” for customers.

Of course, as this Wynn case illustrates, the law can be quite nuanced. Even high courts can disagree about when, how, and under what circumstances tips can be shared.

So what can you do, if your employer has been sharing or skimming your tips? The first step is to get sound legal insight into your potential options. Call the experienced, respected wage and hour employment law team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum today at (212) 688-5640 for a free consultation, or email us at info@jhllp.com for immediate help.