Vegas Casino Case- Smith v. Wynn – Finds Tip- Sharing Policies Violate State Law

A recent case out of Las Vegas places the tip sharing policies of some high profile casinos under intense scrutiny. At issue – a tip sharing policy that requires Las Vegas Strip casino workers to share their tips with their supervisors. Last week the Nevada District Court ruled that the policy in place at Wynn Resorts including Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, violates state law and that employees can’t be forced to share tips with supervisors or employees in other types of jobs.

Tip sharing policies can be complex – certain guidelines must exist to ensure workers receive all the pay they are entitled to. If you are a tipped employee and are unsure if your company’s tip sharing policy complies with federal or state law, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable Georgia overtime attorney.

Smith v. Wynn involved a dispute between table games dealer and their employer over the distribution of tips left by patrons. Wynn Resort employed several different types of tipped workers including table games dealers, slot department employees, poker dealers, valet parking attendants and cocktail waitresses. The table games department also had various types of employees – dealers, box persons and Casino Service Team Leads (CSTLs). Under the tip pooling policy, dealers were required to share their tips with the box men and CSTLs. While tip sharing is common among workers of the same job classification, sharing with supervisors may be problematic. A Nevada District Court judge determined that the policy in question violated state law.

In general, tip-sharing policies must follow certain guidelines including:

• Tips belong to employees, not the employer. Employees cannot be required to turn over part of their tips to the company except as part of a valid tip pooling arrangement.
• The employer cannot be part of a valid tip pooling arrangement • Only employees who receive tips can be part of a pooling arrangement • Employers must notify tipped employees of any required tip pool contribution and cannot retain employees’ tips for any other purpose.

Individual states may have additional tip pooling rules, including whether tips may be pooled between different categories of workers.

For more information or if you believe you are a tipped employee and have been denied adequate compensation as the result of a tip sharing agreement, contact the dedicated Georgia wage and hour lawyers Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP.