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Trump to allow restaurants to pool workers' tips
The Labor Department issued a proposal to repeal an Obama administration rule that had required restaurant owners to let tipped workers keep their tips.
By Rick Docksai
Jan 12, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — The Labor Department proposed on Monday the rollback of an Obama administration rule that prohibits restaurant owners from collecting employees' tips and distributing them among all their employees. The rule ensures that employees who receive tips can keep them for themselves, but restaurant owners' associations have argued that they need to "pool" their employees' tips to make up for earnings disparities between servers and non-tipped employees such as kitchen staff.

The ban on tip-pooling went into effect in 2011 as a protective measure for tipped workers. Many restaurant managers had been collecting workers' tips and distributing them among all their workers, and some had even kept tip money for themselves.Saru Jayaraman, president of the union-backed Restaurant Opportunities Center United, warned that repealing the rule could seriously harm tipped workers' earnings and livelihoods.

"By allowing employers to take control of their employees' tips, this regulation would push a majority-women workforce ... further into financial instability, poverty, and vulnerability to harassment and assault," Jayaraman said in a statement, adding that tipped workers are among the most vulnerable workers in the U.S. workforce.

The Labor Department had already stopped enforcing the ban in July. Critics pointed to the move as in of a series of actions that the agency has taken under President Trump that they say negatively impact workers. Previously, the agency had taken steps toward repealing Obama-era rules that extended overtime pay to 4 million workers and required companies to break down wage data by race and sex.

A 39-day public comment period on the repeal is in effect, following official publication of it on Tuesday.

A Labor Department spokesman said the agency had "conducted a qualitative analysis and encourages all stakeholders to provide data regarding the economic effects of the proposal."