The Deep and Damaging Repercussions of Tip Pool Violations in New York (and Beyond)

Among the pantheon of crimes against workers, tip pool violations are far from the most dramatic. We’ve come a long way in the United States since the days of the Triangle Fire, and we no longer allow young children to work horrendous hours and dangerous jobs. Our laws provide protections for the underprivileged and for members of special classes.

On the other hand, problems like wage and hour issues and tip pool violations are pretty awful, and they have ripple effects that can cascade throughout society.

How Tip Pool Violations Can Set Off a Cascade of Unfair Situations

Consider the theoretical case of Eduardo, a waiter at a fancy Manhattan restaurant, who works to support his two small kids and wife. Even under excellent circumstances, Eduardo’s wages don’t carry him very far in New York. And when you live life on a financial “razor’s edge,” minor insults to your salary can cause major pain.

Imagine what might happen if Eduardo’s employer illegally docks his tips and fails to pay him for overtime, per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law (NYLL) rules. As a result of this financial insult, Eduardo takes home $100 a week less than he should. Over a month, that adds up to a $400 deficit. Without that cash, Eduardo can no longer make his health insurance payments. As a result, he can no longer afford preventive healthcare for his kids. Now, when his kids get sick, they’ll be much more likely to wind up in the emergency room. This act, in turn, puts extra financial pressure on a healthcare system that’s already struggling.

The moral is this: a seemingly insignificant “slight” — such as illegally docking someone’s tips –can lead indirectly to very bad problems not just for the worker but for all of us.

In the context of all the other issues facing our city, tip pool violations may not seem that major. But consider what happens when thousands of workers like Eduardo face similar slights in many industries over years. This unfair “nickel and diming” can really add up and cause big problems.

If you or someone you love faces a wage and hour issue (e.g. your boss hasn’t paid you overtime or has docked your tips unfairly), stand up not just for yourself and your family but also for the common good. Call the Joseph & Kirschenbaum team at (212) 688-5640, or email us at to understand and protect your rights.

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