Starbucks CEO Thinks Pesky "Laws" Don't Apply To His Company

In the state of California it is illegal for supervisors to share in employee tips. Starbucks recently lost a lawsuit brought by an employee who said he was forced to share a portion of his tips with his supervisor. The judgment awarded over $100 million in back tips and interest to the Starbucks baristas of California, and now several similar lawsuits are pending in other states.

Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, however, is more concerned about how the media is portraying Starbucks than he is about paying the back tips. Why? According to a spokesperson, Starbucks won’t be changing their practice and they won’t be paying up.

Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Schultz, in a voice-mail message to employees Wednesday night, called last week’s ruling by a California judge “extremely unfair and beyond reason” and said he wanted employees to know the truth.

“I want to personally let you know that we would never condone any type of behavior that would lead anyone to conclude that we would take money from our people,” he said.

In a separate statement, the company also said, “Contrary to some reports, Starbucks has not taken money from any of its partners, and nor is there money to be refunded or returned from Starbucks.” A spokeswoman said Thursday that Starbucks Corp. has no intention of ending the practice of sharing tips among baristas and shift supervisors in California while it seeks an injunction.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett, in her ruling last week, said there was “uncontroverted testimony that Starbucks continues to utilize the distribution of tips from the tip pool to compensate shift supervisors as well as baristas.” Cowett ordered Starbucks to pay thousands of California baristas $86.7 million plus interest for breaking the law.

Cowett ruled that Starbucks had illegally forced baristas to share tips with shift supervisors, and the judgment could rise to nearly $106 million. The judge found Starbucks violated California law because “agents” of the company, or, in this case, shift supervisors, were sharing tips with baristas. Similar lawsuits were filed this week in Massachusetts and Minnesota, with threats of more suits in other states, including Washington.

Schultz also said that his company was being “grossly mischaracterized” in the media.

Starbucks won’t pay back barista tips [Seatlle P-I]


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    Well, they can keep appealing all the way up to the State Supreme Court. Maybe a higher court will agree with him, but I doubt it.

  2. I agree that salaried managers shouldnt get a cut of tips, but hourly line supervisors, if they are making drinks and waiting on customers deserve a fair share of the pie.

  3. SuffolkHouse says:

    Only thing that is gross is their burned-bean coffee.

  4. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    I’m gonna just shop at Peet’s from now on.

  5. capstinence says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: Yeah, I used to work for TheBux, and shift supervisors routinely work the bar-position. Especially during the opening shift, in my experience, shift supervisors always worked the bar for the first few hours. Then another barista would come in, relieve them, and the supervisor would float behind the register/bar refilling the pastry case, taking more orders, assisting the bar.

    I never felt bad about them getting a share of tips. It always seemed totally fair to me. They did as much (and the same) work as I was doing, plus added duties. Not to mention they are indeed paid hourly.

  6. rmz says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Three posts in! A new record!

  7. cdfmrl says:

    It’s not so black-and-white.

    There was confusion over the status of shift supervisors who also worked the counters and made drinks. They shared in tips because they shared in that work.

    It was wrong for Starbucks to let them share in the tips, but it’s not like they intentionally broke the law. It seems like a misinterpretation of the law instead.

  8. Juggernaut says:

    I think they need more tip jars on the counter

  9. harshmellow says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: I agree. If they are working just like the baristas/servers, they should get some of the tips. However, if they aren’t, they shouldn’t. Do restaurant supervisors get a share of the tips? I was always under the impression that “tip share” was for servers and bussers. Never worked in a restaurant, so I don’t know for sure…

  10. katylostherart says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace:

    agreed, it’s not like they’re not doing barista work and getting paid a bundle. $1 or so more per hour is really not all that much.

  11. Black Bellamy says:

    A tip? For what, handing me a cup of coffee at the register? Do people tip at McDonalds for getting a double-cheese? WTF?

    I don’t frequent Starbucks – are these tips for table service? Do they have table service?

  12. strangeffect says:

    “I want to personally let you know that we would never condone any type of behavior that would lead anyone to conclude that we would take money from our people,”

    “… we are, however, entirely in favor of actually taking money from our people. We simply don’t condone behavior that would lead you to conclude that we do so.

  13. katylostherart says:

    @harshmellow: restaurant supervisors? fast food supervisors are working behind the counter just as much. i don’t know why they’re making such a big deal about this. normally “supervisor” just means they’re handling the money at the beginning and end of shifts. it’s not like they’re the store manager or district manager.

    a restaurant manager at an actual sit down and eat with a waitress and busboy should not get tips. someone who just initials for things and counts the register in and out on top of the regular cs work shouldn’t be screwed out of the tip money.

    fuck the state of california in this instance, they’re wrong.

  14. winstonthorne says:

    Hmmm, your company is being portrayed negatively in the media; do you a) Insist that you’re being unfairly villified and resume your moustache-twirling, tip-stealing ways or b) humbly pay up and make a minor adjustment to your employees’ compensation packages.

    Shultz needs to take some Prozac and a PR course, and not necessarily in that order.

  15. octoSink says:

    When I worked at a restaurant, the busers and line cooks got a cut of the tips from the servers, but not the restaurant manager.

  16. strangeffect says:

    @winstonthorne: Or buy the Overstock brand when that company is liquidated.

  17. kepler11 says:

    in what way do baristas deserve a tip any more than, say, a Subway sandwich employee? Because they have an Italian name for their job?

  18. I know a lot of people at the local Starbucks… They share tips among whoever is working, Since everyone works as a team.

    The tips are then divided up by hours worked and who was working. Thus everyone is getting equal tips for equal time working in a team effort.

    It’s a pretty fair system actually.. Those who work holidays for instance get huge tips.

    I can see how it could be taking tips from some people who were purposely tipped, but it also gives to those who dojust as much work.

    P.S. Shift supervisors are the people just above the normal baristas. They are basically managers, so they have the same responsibilities as baristas plus a little more. The store here has maybe 6-8 shift supervisors hired. Managers are a completely different category.

  19. RokMartian says:

    I know it’s cool to hate on megacompanies like Starbucks, but I have to side with their stance on this. They don’t believe they broke the law and they are fighting it.

    @harshmellow: During my time as a waiter, I never had to share with the manager on duty. However we were forced to give a percentage to the bussers, food runners and the bar, regardless of whether they did anything for us. Now that sucked.

  20. Buran says:

    @B: I’d laugh if they got slapped with contempt of court fines. If you don’t think a court is right, you don’t do something about it by calling them names and saying they’re bullshitting you. this is a COURT we’re talking about.

    No sympathy from me.

  21. howie_in_az says:

    @RokMartian: Yes but without the bussers your tables would be dirty and new customers would have nowhere to sit, thusly diminishing your tips. Without the food runners you’d have to take out all your orders yourself and new customers (assuming the bussers cleaned the tables) would have to wait, thusly getting angry, thusly diminishing your tip. And you always want to keep the bartenders happy, else they’ll make your drinks slowly… thusly getting your customers angry, thusly diminishing your tips.

  22. Buran says:

    @Black Bellamy: No. You go up to a counter, order, they make your order and set it on the counter for you to pick up. Just like fast food. I’ve also seen the occasional fast-food tip jar, but it’s a lot more prevalent at coffee shops of all sorts.

  23. “We don’t like being portrayed by the media that we steal from our employees, but instead of doing the honorable action and following the court judgement, we are going to defy all accusations, and create even MORE bad PR. We want current and future employees, as well as customers, to see us for the honest and law abiding business people that we are.”

    Oh, SNAP. You got us! (sarcasm drooling)

    Geeez. Pay the freaking money, consider it a lesson learned, overhaul your system on tips and wages.

  24. ClayS says:

    See the problem here is that the many of the commentators that have worked at Starbucks or elsewhere in food service feel that the sharing of tips isn’t necessarily wrong. But most others like to hate Starbucks because its a big company, and all big companies are bad. Your knowledge of the industry in interfering with other’s instinctive reaction to the tipping issue.

  25. exkon says:

    It’s none of that. It’s that in California, the law defines a supervisor as one thing. Starbucks defines a supervisor as something else. The idea is that someone who isn’t interfacing directly with customers at the same level as their “grunt” employees should not receive tips given to those grunts. The intent of the law is to prevent a supervisor who doesn’t work with customers from taking a cut of the tips.

    Starbucks shift supervisors are on the floor with the baristas, working directly with customers. They share in the tips because they jointly earn them. 95% of Starbucks baristas think these lawsuits are BS. Just opportunistic people looking to take money from the company.

  26. stageright says:

    To me, this is simple – are the supervisors salaried or hourly? If they’re hourly, I don’t have an issue with them sharing tips, if they’re salaried, then they shouldn’t be taking tips from the hourly employees.

  27. snoop-blog says:

    i hate the idea of sharing tips. if i tip you, i want you to get the whole tip! i don’t want the incompetent idiot the unfortunate people next to me got as a server profiting from your hard work, and neither should you. why not share the tips with everybody then. then they can flat out get away with paying everybody sweatshop wages, and make innocent consumers look cheap and inconsiderate, when really it’s the company that you work for that doesn’t give a damn about paying you an actual living wage.

  28. ClayS says:

    I don’t fault the CEO of Starbucks for defending the sharing of tips. What I would like to see him do is tell his stores to put the tip jars away and increase their wages to keep their employees happy. They charge enough for their coffee drinks that their people shouldn’t be panhandling for spare change.

  29. Craig says:

    Personally I don’t think barista’s should get tipped. I don’t tip the chef at a restaurant, why should I tip a barista? If they take my order at one of the tables and bring the drink to my table when it’s ready then we can talk.

  30. Craig says:

    And before the grammar Nazis get me…yes, it should have been “baristas” instead of “barista’s.”

  31. ClayS says:

    Good thing you fixed that spelling error.

    I agree with you; tipping is normally for people serving you at a table, not a pickup counter. I’d rather they charge me $5 instead of $4 for a venti rigatoni or whatever and pay their people what they need to. I don’t like tip jars at all.

  32. snoop-blog says:

    @ClayS: well the fact that the jars are by the register implies you should tip before you ever get your product? how do i know you’re not going to screw it up?

  33. modenastradale says:


    Yep, it’s an awful system, and I just don’t participate in it unless someone at the counter has really gone “above and beyond” in some way. Otherwise, we’re just enabling businesses to keep up this awful trend of burying their business expenses in fees, surcharges, and gratuities rather than the advertised price.

  34. capstinence says:

    All the people who are commenting that baristas shouldn’t be tipped at all are completely missing the issue at hand.

    And to be honest, it doesn’t actually matter that you’re whining about how you’re an untipped Subway-sandwich maker. If you don’t want to tip, don’t tip. It’s optional. You’re all making it sound required.

    Besides the fact that I’ve seen tip jars at all sorts of other fast-food-ish restaurants (and at pretty much every single Tacqueria I visit near my apartment in Oakland), including Subway. It may not be corporate-approved, but it still happens, and I still tip if it’s not a horrendous experience.

  35. ClayS says:

    Snoop’s point is that you are expected to tip before anyone has gone “above and beyond” expectations. It makes little sense.

  36. volenti non fit injuria says:

    congratulations! you can come into work tomorrow! — geez, what do these people want? a trophy? or how bout a certificate of achievement. wow *shakes head*

  37. Lazlo Nibble says:

    CA labor law prohibits “employers or agents” from taking a cut of tips, and defines “agent” as:

    every person other than the employer having the authority to hire or discharge any employee or supervise, direct, or control the acts of employees.

    Which seems pretty clear-cut to me, though I doubt this outcome was what they had in line when they wrote the law.

  38. snoop-blog says:

    @ClayS: i thought i made perfect sense. have you ever seen someone walk up to the tip jar on their way out the door? i haven’t. i worked at a place that had a tip jar, everyone tipped before they even got their order.

    wait you were suggesting that the tip jars themselves make little sense weren’t you? whoops silly me.

  39. snoop-blog says:

    @LazloNibble: you mean “had in mind”

    but i think that’s exactly what they had in mind. they don’t want to leave any room for a business to take advantage of the labor laws (mainly minimum wages for servers). by not paying a supervisor proper a mangers’ wage, they are indeed taking advantage. to say the managers “deserve” part of those tips is admitting they derserve to get paid more than what starbucks is willing to pay them, but instead of starbucks taking the hit, it’s the low level employee who ultimately brings home less money at the expense of a deviant ceo.

  40. Mr.Ninethree says:

    Let’s all blame the victim!! YAY.

    Shift supervisors are paid more because there job discription indicates that they must DO more.

    The people under the supervisors probably get paid less, not because they do a whole lot less than the supervisor, but because they RELY ON TIPS, which in this case the supervisor is stealing.

    Good job Starbucks.

  41. ClayS says:

    Right, the tip jars don’t make sense. You normally tip after you’ve been served.

  42. handngrain says:

    Here’s my thing, which a lot of other people are saying. I used to work for Starbucks and was a shift. The only difference in my position was that I handled money and closed the store at night. It was me and one barista, and we worked equally hard, both out front the entire time. I got paid a dollar more. I think I deserved tips, and, my store manager, who worked the floor got us most of those tips. He never got any, but it seems wrong that you don’t get what you make. I agree…Starbucks should just pay supervisors and managers what they deserve to be paid, but how much is that? How do we determine the balance? Maybe for now just get tips for the hours you worked up front. That seems like a logical fix to the current issue.

  43. modenastradale says:


    Actually, “above and beyond” for me has nothing to do with actually making the drinks, becuase I’ve found that Starbucks beverages always taste bad and are made incorrectly more often than not.

    What I mean is, sometimes the person who takes your order is very friendly, and takes a special effort to make you smile on a Monday morning. Sometimes they suggest custom drinks they themselves like. Sometimes they comp your drink. =) For these things, I’d tip.

  44. econobiker says:

    The coffee guy at 7-11 doesn’t care about tips and can describe the cups as small, medium, and large.

    econobiker, a non-coffee drinker who has his wife write out the entire incomprehensible coffee order for him to pick up for her at Starbucks.

  45. Coelacanth says:

    If Starbucks relies that shift supervisors get a share of the tip jar, then just pay Shift Supervisors s higher salary and then ban them from taking their portion.

    Then again, perhaps it was clever strategy by Starbucks in order to keep costs low.

    Guaranteed Starbucks knew the law. They have enough money nad probably many fancy lawyers on their side.

  46. snoop-blog says:

    @handngrain: it’s called negotiating. that’s how you determine what a supervisor should make. YOU determine it. i hate when managers complain how little they make. i’ve turned down management offers before because the money was insulting. if it’s not worth the money, say no. or tell them how much it will take for you to do the job. if your worth it, you’ll get it.

  47. Coelacanth says:


    Starbucks should just pay supervisors and managers what they deserve to be paid, but how much is that? How do we determine the balance?

    That seems to me the type of problem that any decent Business Analyst should be able to solve without breaking a sweat. While I am not one myself, this hardly seems to be one of those unanswerable questions. There’s enough market data out there to be quite precise.

  48. bizzz says:

    Starbucks pays a fairly decent wage and great benefits for a position that requires little skill or training, and the greedy barristas want more.

    Easy fix for this. Immediately stop sharing tips with managers. Dock the starting pay of barristas $1-2 an hour, cut benefits by 10-20% and shift that money to the managers.

    Problem solved. Everyone is happy. Barristas get all their tips, and managers are fairly compensated for their counter work.

    Very rarely do I find myself on the side of management, but this suit is just pure greed with a double shot of entitlement mentality.

  49. Angryrider says:

    Bad Publicity? pssh Everyone knows there’s no such thing as that. Besides, people will still go to Starbucks to get their coffee fix no matter what. It’s everywhere.

  50. iamlost26 says:

    Starbucks doesn’t like California laws, does it? Recently I tried to get cash back on the leftover balance of a $10 giftcard. They said that they couldn’t give cash back. I was with my mom, so I didn’t cause a scene, but um, yeah, you can. And you’re supposed to, if I ask, under California law.

  51. TPS Reporter says:

    I’ve been to Starbucks only a couple of times but I guess it never dawned on me to tip them. Do I tip the kid at McDonalds that pours my coffee, the cashier at the store that bags my groceries, the Subway person that balks at putting more than 3 olives on my sandwich? I do tip pretty well in a restaurant if the service is good (20%), but sometimes it gets ridiculous all this tipping. Do I tip the kid who washes the bugs off the front of my car at the automatic car wash, takes my ticket and hits the right wash cycle on the panel?

  52. trujunglist says:

    Starbucks fucking sucks. I don’t get why anyone even goes there. I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t comment on the (lack of) quality there, but everything else I’ve had from there tasted like complete crap and was terribly overpriced.

  53. Buran says:

    @exkon: However, because the law defines supervisors as something definite, they don’t deserve the tips. Starbucks needs to pay up since they were caught cheating and violating the law — and fix this problem for the future if it is really as you say.

    You don’t get to override the law.

  54. xbigdoggx says:

    When people think this is awesome I wanna kick them in the teeth.
    What is a TIP. It is a monetary thankyou for a job well done. I worked for starbucks 10 or so years ago and was an assistant manager. Even the store managers work on the floor making drinks and what not. Why shouldnt they get a cut of the tips. I can understand why there is a law in place to protect people who live off tips but maybe there should be laws that create jobs where you dont have to rely on the customers generocity. I think a tip should be no ones business except the customer. Fuck whats next mandatory tipping. ITS A TIP AN EXTRA THANK YOU.

  55. bigmac12 says:

    Looks like Bucks would rather give the tips to the lawyers.

  56. Coelacanth says:

    @trujunglist: Their cffee may be terrible by most people’s standards, but their espresso beverages are decent. In many cases, they’re a lot better than what you’d find at an trendy “independent” coffeehouse whose only panache is that they’re not Starbucks. They’re consistent, even though you can definitely find better quality elsewhere if you take your chances.

    Secondly, it’s an excellent neutral meeting ground. You can study, work, meet up with friends and talk, and spend hours without getting on anywone’s nerves. They’re also everywhere, so you don’t have to think too hard to find a hangout.

  57. bcash says:

    ohhh, poor old Starbucks is getting a tarnished reputation. Oh wait, they already have one.

  58. tande says:

    @kepler11: I knew a girl in college that work at Subway who alway put a tip cup out during her shift. I was dumbfounded when she first started doing it but sure enough as time when on more and more people were droping money in it. Almost all of the Subways in the area do it now (not to say that she was the crux of it all I think it common in most places like that). Blows my freaking mind.

  59. Falconfire says:

    I am glad to say it, but in this case California is once again 100% fucking WRONG. their definition of a supervisor is what the restaurant world at large terms a MANAGER who makes a salary. Supervisors in food service are for all purposes what they call a “key manager” in which they have some of the responsibilities of a manager, but are paid only a dollar or two more than the run of the mill employees, and the whole purpose of which is to free up the lesser bullshit menial managerial jobs away from the managers so they can focus on other more important things.

    I was a shift supervisor at Dairy Queen for the few months I worked there, and all it resulted in was .50 more in salary over the girl who couldnt speak english and the pre-emo kid who I always had to drive home.

    Just another case of a state butting in on something it has no concept of.

  60. Falconfire says:

    @Buran: except in food service supervisors and managers are two different things, and every state EXCEPT California respects this.

    Its a clear case of California doesnt know how the system works and wrote a blanket law with no clue behind it. This is after all coming from the same state who outlawed the terms Slave and Master as they pertain to hard drives despite the fact those terms had been in place for over 25+ years at that point.

  61. PermanentStar says:

    My question is, why the hell would you tip at starbucks? You go in there for coffe or whatever freaking thing you drink there, and you pay the exorbitant amount for it at the register. Where do you tip? Who do you tip? I don’t exactly see a point to tipping people to do their job. I worked in food service for years, and can count on one hand the number of times I got a tip (and it was for doing something above and beyond) – I do not condone tipping people who are just doing their jobs, so I guess I didn’t realize that this was such a big thing.

  62. brokebutfabulous says:

    As a former barista and waiter, I am getting sick of listening to your disgustingly classist arguments for why you shouldn’t have to pay a tip to the kid who makes your cup of coffee.

    A tip is not for “exemplary service”–it’s for service, period. Servers get paid $2.13 plus tips. If we get a bunch of asshole customers who decide not to tip because our level of service was not to their exacting standards, we maybe get paid a whopping FIFTY-FIVE CENTS to serve your table for the whole time you were eating. (Assuming you sit for an hour and we are serving four tables at a time, though it’s often much more.)

    I get paid every two weeks and in a good month, I make $1000 (including tips). We ain’t exactly rolling in dough, sweetheart. But having liquid assets (like cash tips) has paid for my groceries and medication that keeps me out of the hospital (no health insurance for me!). It’s kept me out of the payday loan offices.

    You pay $3.50 for the price of your coffee. Cough up another dollar to pay for the act of making it–especially if you come into the same shop every day, especially if it’s the same person making your signature drink every morning. Then give the kid two bucks for knowing what drink to make the second you come in the door. That’s called building community.

    Oh, but I’m sorry. I am but a lowly barista who should just keep his mouth shut while I make your latte.

  63. Zephyr7 says:

    All this over some over-sized, over-priced, frou-frou coffee…

  64. whuffo says:

    It looks like people don’t agree on what a tip is for. It’s a gratuity that’s given by customers in appreciation for good service.

    It’s not a service fee and nobody has an obligation to pay a tip. They’re given freely and the customer decides if you earned this extra thank you or not.

    There are a lot of people who think they deserve a tip from every customer – they’re probably also the ones who rarely receive one. Want a tip? Give great service.

    And those who put tip jars next to the register at a fast food restaurant – you want me to tip before I receive my food / drink? And just exactly what “above and beyond” service did you provide the customer? You took their order, rang it up and took their money. If you did that adequately you’ve fulfilled the expectations of the company you work for. If you want the customer to give you some extra money, you need to give the customer some extra special service first.

    As far as Starbucks’ problem goes – the judge ordered them to pay up and change their procedures. If Starbucks chooses to ignore the court order then they should be prepared to pay the consequences.

    And those of you who whine about not getting all the tips you deserve – if you sullenly do the minimum necessary then you don’t deserve a tip. You probably don’t deserve the job, either.

    Remember: personal service, above and beyond. Anything less and you should not expect to receive a tip. Get used to it.

  65. fuzzymuffins says:

    tip cups are a way for employees to secretly shout “what they pay me here isn’t enough… HELP”

    is the service industry suffering from ‘professional begging’?

    are we as consumers now responsible for supporting service employees because they don’t make enough in their base salary?

  66. Tzepish says:

    So basically, Starbucks says “yes, we do this” and “no, we do not plan to stop”, but they also say they have been grossly mischaracterized in the media? They were called out for breaking the law, which they admit to doing!

  67. azntg says:

    Great PR Schultz!

    It’s a rare thing if I drink coffee more than once a week, twice tops. More reasons for me to avoid Starbucks for when I do drink a cup.

  68. Buran says:

    @Falconfire: Perhaps. But that doesn’t change the fact that the law is the law. Starbucks seems to think that they are exempt, but since calling someone a “supervisor” makes them fall under state laws for locations in California, they deserved to lose.

    Now, if they want to change the job titles or change how they do things, that’s their right — BUT — they cannot change the fact that what they did in the past was illegal.

    It doesn’t matter what other states do. Each state has the right to regulate businesses within its territory. My state has laws that are different from the states surrounding it, but that doesn’t mean it has to change the laws to be the same as other states’.

    If Starbucks wants to keep doing what it’s doing and not change a thing, it can suffer the consequences of breaking the law, or stop doing business in California.

  69. sibertater says:

    @Black Bellamy: I think I know why you’re against tipping…it’s as clear as your name.

  70. sibertater says:

    @whuffo: I’ve always been told it meant, “To Insure Perfect Service.” But I don’t know if that’s true or not.

  71. modenastradale says:


    I’m sorry, but it’s *your* beliefs about the role of tipping that are out of step with the contemporary culture.

    True, Americans have been bullied into thinking that every sit-down meal must be accompanied by a “gratuity,” so long as the server doesn’t spit on you. But that’s *far* from true in walk-in shops such as Starbucks. In Starbucks, the concept of tipping as a means of paying for the making of the drink makes no sense. I mean, what the hell are you paying $3.50 for, if not for drink production? Even the most gourmet, high-markup grocery store does not charge $3.50 for 12 ounces of milk and a few coffee beans!

    Never mind that, except in tourist traps, tipping is only supposed to accompany a personal service. In Starbucks, there is no personal service to tip for. Most of the time, the baristas don’t even make eye contact as they slosh your drink up on the counter. There’s no more service involved in it than in buying brake pads from Pep Boys — and you don’t tip for that.

  72. Trojan69 says:

    Here’s the key difference that nobody is mentioning. A non-supervisory employee has no implicit hope of becoming a manager, thus making good money. Supervisory positions have historically been the first step towards a career. They are similar in this regard to apprenticeships in labor guilds.

    An apprentice millworker works every bit as, if not more, hard than the journeyman millworkers, but they make a fraction of the wage a journeyman commands (scale from 20-90% in many instances). Cutting wood is cutting wood. Most millworkers learn well over 95% of the trade within a couple of years. Yet the apprenticeship runs at least seven years. They do much the same work. Is this fair? I say it is.

    The moral of this story is that unless you really intend on making a career with the corporation, you are a fool to take on supervisory/management responsibilities for a small bump in pay. The value of the job is in the promise of a reward years out. It is NOT about cashing in today.

    I worked in restaurants for a decade. It was always understood that anyone who was on a management track was NOT to participate in the gratuity pool. Some places had mandatory tipping out for busboys and the like, others made it voluntary. None used the gratuity pool as a method of compensating supervisory folks.

  73. richcreamerybutter says:

    @ClayS: I agree with you; tipping is normally for people serving you at a table, not a pickup counter.

    I take it you and many other here don’t tip your bartenders either?

  74. modenastradale says:


    Depends on what the bartender did and how long I was at the bar. If I’ve been sitting there a while, and the bartender has been chatty and companionable, I’ll tip quite well. Or if I order something complicated, I’ll tip even if it’s just a one-off drink. But, most of the time, I just buy a bottle of water. There’s no service involved, so I don’t tip for that.

  75. ClayS says:

    I tip bartenders as well. They do it all, take your order, mix drinks, and serve. That’s not the same as Starbucks or a fast food place.

    Restaurant servers and bartenders have always been tipped traditionally. It is only recently that places like Starbucks have been putting out tip jars.

  76. geoelectric says:

    @Falconfire: Got any proof on that “outlawed slave and master” claim?

    The county of Los Angeles requested that vendors adopt different terminology because it was offensive to some employees. They pulled existing master/slave labels off their existing deployed hardware. To my knowledge, they never outlawed anything.

  77. VikingP77 says:

    Starbucks doesn’t deserve my money so they don’t get it!

  78. HalOfBorg says:

    IF the law says Supervisors don’t get a share – then they DON’T GET A SHARE. I don’t care if they are holding the whole damn building together.

    Don’t like it? Change the law.

  79. Not tipping a bartender has to be a new low. While they don’t walk anything to your table, they do live off tips. I might be wrong but I believe they’re also considered a tipped employee class for labor laws.

  80. Skeptic says:

    y Falconfire at 05:49 PM on 03/28/08 ReplyI was a shift supervisor at Dairy Queen for the few months I worked there, and all it resulted in was .50 more in salary over the girl who couldnt speak english and the pre-emo kid who I always had to drive home.

    While you may have been underpaid as a manager you need to blame your employer not the state of California.

  81. Skeptic says:

    by brokebutfabulous at 06:02 PM on 03/28/08 Reply
    A tip is not for “exemplary service”–it’s for service, period. Servers get paid $2.13 plus tips. If we get a bunch of asshole customers who decide not to tip because our level of service was not to their exacting standards, we maybe get paid a whopping FIFTY-FIVE CENTS to serve your table for the whole time you were eating…

    Oh, but I’m sorry. I am but a lowly barista who should just keep his mouth shut while I make your latte.

    Sorry, a tip is a tip–otherwise it would be included in the charges as a service fee–and even those are bogus because “service fees” should be included in the food pricing rather than added on.

    The class of people we tip is totally arbitrary. Stabucks? Yes. McDonalds? No. SkyCap Check In? Yes. Inside counter check in? No. Cab Driver? Yes. Bus Driver? No.

    We need to get rid of tipping, especially when people like “brokebutfabulous” have come to believe that tips are an entitlement rather than a gratuity. However, we also need to get rid of the “tipped employee” minimum wage that screws over “brokebutfabulous” and makes them utterly dependent on tips.

  82. Skeptic says:

    by probablyawkward at 11:51 PM on 03/28/08 Reply
    Not tipping a bartender has to be a new low. While they don’t walk anything to your table, they do live off tips. I might be wrong but I believe they’re also considered a tipped employee class for labor laws.

    Not only do they live off of tips, some of them live ridiculously well off tips. As do some SkyCaps.

    Why should a bartender get tips but not the person who cleans the grease traps in the kitchen? While many tipped employees are under paid and over worked, so are many non-tipped employees. If you are annoyed by the erratic tipping of customers, don’t blame the customers blame your employers for not paying you enough of a base wage.

  83. Skeptic says:


    by Falconfire at 05:52 PM on 03/28/08 Reply
    Its a clear case of California doesnt know how the system works and wrote a blanket law with no clue behind it. This is after all coming from the same state who outlawed the terms Slave and Master as they pertain to hard drives despite the fact those terms had been in place for over 25+ years at that point.

    BS, California based hard drive maker Seagate still uses “master” and “slave.”


  84. SplitCalyx says:

    When I worked at *$, I appreciated the tips customers gave, but I didn’t really understand why they tipped at all except maybe due to a phobia of loose change.

    When I worked at a high-pressure suit job and hated life, I felt like tipping a dollar after being treated like a human was a bargain. It made the baristas happy, and it made me happy.

  85. Buckus says:

    I will not argue whether or not shift supervisors deserve or don’t deserve to share in the tips…I’ve never been to Starbucks, really.

    However, this is a pretty clear-cut violation. I don’t think Starbucks will win this one, so in the end I think they will need to make some adjustments to employee pay to make up for this.

    I also don’t believe in tipping fast-food workers a’ la Starbucks. They make at least minimum wage, whereas waiters, waitresses, busboys, and servers are paid below minimum wage unless their tips are not enough to make at least minimum wage. What this means is that a Starbucks Barista making slightly above minimum wage is guaranteed a higher salary than, say, the waiter at your favorite steak joint who always knows the daily special.

    In the end, Starbucks needs to pay up and make the necessary changes.

  86. Buckus says:

    @brokebutfabulous. Baristas in California are making at least $8.00 an hour which, for a full-time position means $1280 every month, guaranteed. They are not getting paid $2.13 + tips like you. You mention that you make $1000 in a good month, well guess what, a Starbucks Barista will regularly make $200+ more than you in any month they work full-time. Still think you should tip them? You really think it costs $5.00 for the flavored water in a cup of coffee? The cost of labor for making that cup of coffee is in the price already. Tipping the barista is just over the top.

  87. snoop-blog says:

    The thing that kills me the most is the audacity starbucks has. Like they are above the law.

  88. MARTHA__JONES says:

    @capstinence: At my local Starbucks I usually tip because the manager is so awesome, and yes he is frequently seen behind the bar.

  89. ianmac47 says:

    Why is anyone tipping a Starbucks employee at all?

  90. richcreamerybutter says:

    @ClayS: I tip bartenders as well. They do it all, take your order, mix drinks, and serve. That’s not the same as Starbucks or a fast food place.

    I have performed both jobs, and will say that most espresso drinks (made properly) require the same skills as most (average) mixed drinks. My former coffee bars were all set up so that I WAS taking the order (cashiers at SB rotate with making drinks, so they all do both tasks). In NYC (at least) you also tip for pouring a beer, or removing the cap from a bottle. How can you really claim that popping the cap off a bottle is more worthy of a tip than the skills for a dry cappucino?

    Just because a place doesn’t serve booze doesn’t mean it’s “fast food” by default. As a barista I would often get very demanding customers with medical conditions ordering these ridiculous drinks who also claimed they couldn’t have caffeine or sugar or they might explode on premises. These high-maintenence customers inevitably thought that trusting their lives to me didn’t warrant a tip either.

    I definitely tip my bartenders well (even for bottles, because you just DO). I do know that a great espresso drink also deserves the same consideration. That said, I’d bartend in a heartbeat before slinging coffee again (with the exception of a coffee-wine bar, since these patrons tend to understand this concept).

  91. richcreamerybutter says:

    Somewhat unrelated, there is an art to foaming milk. When I first learned many years ago, my teacher compared the process to “giving a good handjob.” :)

  92. 00447447 says:

    I’ve worked in the coffee industry for MANY years, including managing a few Starbuck’s not so long ago. The courts got this one wrong. Shift Supervisors are hourly at-will floor supervisors. They are not, technically, part of the management team. More than 75% of the time they are doing regular “Barista” work, and not any managerial functions. They do supervise the work of others, but are not responsible for the performance of their subordinates. That is the key difference. Shift Supervisors are hourly and part-time. They are usually paid a two dollar premium for the promotion.

    Lets get this straight. The coffee industry suffers from being compared to typical retail or typical food service. The problem is that it is neither. The tips rarely add up to more than an extra buck or two an hour, so the workers are payed a higher hourly rate than a waiter would be payed. The shift supervisors are just senior baristas who assist in running the floor. There is no reason that they should not share in the tips.

  93. 00447447 says:

    @ianmac47: Because they appreciate good service. If you get good service at a specialty shop, may feel like saying a thank you with a couple dollars. No one at Starbucks, or any other coffee shop, will spit in your drink if you don’t tip. They probably won’t even notice. Regardless, no one is asking you to leave anything.

  94. Skeptic says:


    Sorry, the court’s got this one right, and obviously so based on the statute. What you are disagreeing with is the state law, not the court.

    As for being “at will,” all employees in California, even salaried ones, are at will employees, i.e., you can fire them when ever you like for any reason that is not illegally discriminatory. The only exception are people who negotiate a written contract with specific agreements to what what the company may fire them for–and such contracts are nothing to do with whether you are salaried vs. hourly.

  95. 00447447 says:

    @Skeptic: A majority of upper management type employees are on contracts and, therefor, not “at will.”

    This was not a judgement based on any actual statute, but was rather an attempt to set one.

  96. Trojan69 says:

    @00447447: Nice try.

    You are making the same argument Starbucks made: Supervisors are not supervisors.

    Either they are, or they are not. If Starbucks chooses to not value these folks with more of a bump, that is fine. But as I wrote above, anyone who takes such a post is a fool, unless it is with hopes of a future. Question for you ….was any employee ever promoted to management without first having been a supervisor? Was any supervisor jumped by an hourly employee who had no supervisory experience?

    I have turned down management positions because I would have become an exempt employee. Meaning I would no longer qualify for overtime pay. Millions of folks have done the same thing. Starbucks employees in California and like-minded states have the same option. You want to stay tip-class/eligible for tips, or do you want to take a chance on a management future?

    This is an entirely fair proposition.

  97. ehlaren says:

    Skeptic, if you ever want to start a “pay your employees living wage” movement I’m with you. I’m getting tired of trying to show waiters/barristas/anyone who thinks they should get or needs a tip that it isn’t a problem when someone doesn’t tip you. The problem comes from your employer who could care less about screwing not only their employees out of money but their customers as well.

  98. dirk1965 says:

    Having traveled a lot for business, I noticed that tip jars at fast food joints are more prevalent in California than anywhere else in the country. I loved the post of the one ex-Starbucks employee stating that he deserved tips. That’s the problem with today’s generation… they think they deserve everything handed to them on a silver plate. What happened to the days when you were paid to perform a service? I sure didn’t think I deserved anything extra when I had to flip burgers! I sure don’t understand why people think Starbucks coffee is so great anyway. Personally, I think it sucks and can made a much better cup at home for MUCH less!

  99. snoop-blog says:

    @dirk1965: said “That’s the problem with today’s generation…”

    hmmm, if there is any problem with today’s generation, wouldn’t it be at the fault of the previous generation?

    i agree that starbucks commenter is rediculous in thinking that patrons are obligated to leave a tip regaurdless of service, but i’m 25 and hate it when i get classified with these douches. i’m curious as to how often and how much that commenter tips.

  100. dirk1965 says:

    @snoop-blog: I will agree with you on your point. Parents aren’t teaching them good work ethics simply because they buy everything for them and they can’t do no wrong. I’m not saying that all parents are like that, but it sure seems like a really high percentage are.

  101. Tonguetied says:

    I imagine that most of the Starbucks employees didn’t see anything wrong with the practice of sharing tips but that a small few decided that it wasn’t fair. As a result you get this decision.

    I wonder how much of this CEO’s resistance is to the lawsuits in the other states. Knowing that if the company folds in California then they would probably be forced to fold in any other state they are challenged. $100 million X 50 (or 40 or 20 or even 10) adds up to a lot of dough.

    Much like the lawsuits against Domino’s resulted in the loss of the “30 minutes or it’s free” guarantee I wonder about a company wide edict that there will be no tips allowed period.

  102. IssaGoodDay says:


    In a coffee shop where the Baristas are pulling your shots by hand and putting time and effort into foaming your milk, yes. They deserve tips over the average Subway/MickeyDs employee who slaps stuff together and wraps it up. It takes years of practice to get good at the art of coffee making, and if someone does a good job of it, they deserve the tip – especially since jobs like that typically don’t pay all that well.

    Starbucks doesn’t necessarily qualify in this case, but just because they have Baristas that can push buttons, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tip at the places where people really do a good job at what they do.

  103. Paintbait says:

    To be fair Starbucks isn’t the first or the last to demand tips from their employees. Small businesses do it, big businesses do it. Not only in food, but in other industries as well.

    Starbucks got busted, fighting the judgment is a fool hearted move in my opinion. Their CEO wants to appear to be innocent, and it probably wasn’t his decision, but if it took place fighting the judgment is only going to lead to a further bruised reputation.