Who should get your Starbucks tip?
May 29th, 2013
05:45 PM ET
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Who should get the tips you leave in that plexiglass box at Starbucks?

That's the question at the center of a dispute in front of New York state's highest court.

Lawyers for baristas, assistant store managers and Starbucks argued in front of the New York Court of Appeals this week to hash out what types of employees are eligible to participate in a tip-pooling arrangement.

As it stands, Starbucks distributes the pooled tips among baristas and shift managers, while store managers and assistant managers don't get a share of the pot. Baristas and shift managers both work on a on a part-time, hourly basis.

But New York labor law prohibits an "agent," which includes "supervisors," from keeping tips. Baristas claim that this definition prevents Starbucks from allowing shift supervisors to take a piece of the pie. But Starbucks said that shift supervisors are primarily responsible for servicing food and drinks to customers, and that supervisors generate tips for their services, just as baristas do.

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Filed under: Chain • Restaurants • Starbucks • Tipping

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soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Barista

    I am a Barista. I can tell you that the shift supervisors work just has hard or harder than we do. They earn the tips and they are hourly, like us. We appreciate the business our customers bring. The tips just offset our low hourly wage and make us feel good for a job well done. Trust me when I say we earn it. Some of the public can be hard to deal with. Starbucks pay is not that great, but the full benefits starting at 20 hrs a week are something you don't see everywhere. You only work at Starbucks if you love it. It sure isn't for the pay. Asst Managers and Managers are salary. As a barista I feel Starbucks is right on here.

    June 27, 2013 at 7:28 am |
  2. Jon M

    Heres a novel concept, Pay a living wage. Should be enough money to pay a fair wage on a $4.50 cup of coffee for God sakes.

    June 5, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  3. graygrrrl

    I worked at Starbucks as a shift supervisor and I relied on tips to raise my paltry salary to something I could live on. Barista's make VERY little money and put up with demanding customers and super chaotic rushes. You don't have to tip, but if you do; those tips should go to all non-salaried workers.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  4. Lisa

    There shouldn't be tips at Starbucks, or on the drive up counter edge at my local coffee places. Why? Because this isn't the same as a restaurant where the wait staff waits on you! No one brings you food, refills your drinks, brings you extra napkins... you know, all the little things the wait staff do. They make a coffee drink according to the instructions.
    Tips for wait staff – yes.
    Tips for pizza delivery – yes.
    Tips in the tip jar at Starbucks, or the donut shop, or the myriad other places that set out the "tips go here" cans? Absolutely not!

    May 30, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      I feel the same way. It's annoying when YOU call in a sandwich order, YOU race over on your short lunch break to pick it up, YOU stand in line tapping your foot as your lunch break burns, then when you sign the receipt there's a place for "Tip:"

      Please. $0

      June 3, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  5. Pam

    It has been a long time since I worked there, so can't be sure it's exactly the same, but when I was there a "shift supervisor" was pretty much just a barista who had keys for times when the manager or asst. manager wasn't there. Kind of like when your parents would have to go out or take a shower and would put the oldest kid "in charge" – it didn't make you a parent.

    Shift supervisors, in my experience, did the exact same tasks as other employees on duty. They'd run the register, work the bar, change out the pastry case, and they were paid hourly. (There was a SMALL bump up in hourly pay, but it wasn't like being salaried.) It's not like being a manager. When I worked there, none of us ever thought twice about all non-salaried workers splitting tips, because we all did the same stuff and all earned it.

    May 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  6. Edwin

    I'm actually on Starbuck's side on this one. Sure the baristas are the ones making the coffee most of the time, but it's the shift supervisors that are in charge of coordinating them and making sure the store can stay efficicient during rushes. My local starbucks always runs smoothly; isn't it only fair that the person(s) responsible for this get a share as well?

    They're not store managers, they don't get a salary, they work hourly shifts just as the baristas do.

    May 30, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  7. sally

    Management should not receive tips. Either keep the title or keep the money, you can't have both.

    May 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  8. Voter

    Tipping is a very liberal concept. Basically the service provider is saying "Well, I know I took this job for $X per hour, but waaaahaaa, I want more!" Welcome to Obama's Amerikkka.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Edwin

      ...because tipping started the day Obama took office, right?

      You can't possibly be this stupid.

      May 30, 2013 at 10:38 am |
      • *

        Voter could never be as stupid as I think he is.

        May 31, 2013 at 7:45 am |
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