Surly tip pool violated state wage-and-hour law

A Hennepin County District Judge has sided with a former bartender at the Surly Brewing Co. in Minneapolis in a dispute over the company’s tip pooling practices.

The Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act allows employees to develop their own tip-pooling schemes, but it’s unlawful for employers to impose one on the employees.

The court found that for a time, the giant beer hall did organize a tip pool and require employees to participate in it. The bartender never asserted that the company ever took money away from tipped employees, and there is no evidence that it did.

That might make it harder for a jury to assess damages, which is the next step in the legal process. Surly issued a statement saying it is “working with its legal counsel to resolve this matter quickly and in a manner that is fair to Surly’s employees.”

Note: Employers in the hospitality industry must ensure their tip-pooling practices comply with both federal and state law.

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