Tip Pooling in Vegas Casino Sparks Lawsuit

Tip pooling is the cause of a wage lawsuit between Wynn Las Vegas and its dealers. Disputed is the casino’s policy of sharing dealers tips with their floor supervisors, a pay practice instituted in 2006.

According to dealers, the payouts from the tip pool were a way for the casino to pay managers more without having to pay them out-of-pocket, a less-common violation of federal tip pooling law but nevertheless an illegal pay practice if true.

About 600 dealers have been affected by the tip pooling practice since it went into place. Real wages for dealers, according to one dealer interviewed, has dropped an estimated 25 percent.

Previous to 2006, tip pooling was in place and followed industry practice of redistributing dealers’ tips among dealers only.

Testimony was presented this month to Nevada’s labor commissioner where the casino’s dealers have taken their case, asking that this tip pooling payout policy be ruled illegal and that $35 million in back pay and penalties be awarded to the nearly 500 dealers affected. The first formal complaints and wage claims go back to 2006 when the tip-pooling policy was implemented.

Labor laws governing tip pooling are pretty clear on at least one point: participants in a tip pool must be regularly tipped employees, and employment law expressly forbids managers from taking any tip pool.

Regardless of the labor commissioner’s decision, this tip pooling lawsuit is expected to go to the state supreme court and its outcome affect all Nevada tip earners. The court’s decision could mean restitution for tip pool abuses if the tipped employees win the lawsuit. Or, it could mean Nevada employees who depend on tips for their subsistence–busboys, waiters and waitresses, bartenders, etc.–may be subject to management’s taking their tips and paying whomever they feel like with these tip moneys.

If you believe you may have tips unlawfully taken from you by your employer through tip pooling or by other means, I encourage you to complete our online TN wage lawsuit inquiry form or to call our Nashville, TN employment law offices directly at 615-353-0930.

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