UnderCover Waitress: Virginia Laws and Tip Pooling

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Virginia Laws and Tip Pooling

Ask the Waitress!
Hi, my manager has a small salary, and he gets half of my tips every night. The owner of the restaurant is a lawyer, and he said it's legal in the state of Virginia that a manager share the tips with the server. We are not talking 30 or 40 dollars, it's around 1000 a week. The manager's salary is around 400 dollars a week. He helps opening wines, cleaning tables. Now the GM wants her cut, because she said, she helps seating people.
Isn't it fun to work with greedy people? Seriously, thanks for writing. I'm glad you told me the state you work in, that is helpful.

Your boss is correct; in the state of Virginia there are no laws against management putting their hands in the tip pool. The owner himself may not take home a cut of your tips.

In the state of Virginia, you could be making as little as $2.13 per hour. Your employer is responsible for making sure your take home pay is at least $7.25 per hour. There is no minimum amount of tips you must make before you are considered a tipped employee. For example, in Kentucky and Maine, you must make at least $30 per month in tips to be considered a tipped employee. Virginia has no limit. And if Virginia, you may legally be required to include any percentage of tips into a valid tip pool; in other words, giving up fifty percent or more of you tips is still legal.

The Nolo Press has a nice write-up of Virginia tipped employee laws: Virginia Laws for Tipped Employees. 

Valid tip pools include employees who may receive tips as part of their jobs, in other words, front of house employees who interact with customers. Technically, if the GM seats people her claim is not illegal; it may be unreasonable, however.

In most industries, employees expect the owner to budget to pay them their wages, salaries and benefits. In the restaurant industry, non-server employees look to the waiters and waitresses for their pay. It's like "trickle up" theory.

Sorry I don't have better news for you. Please remember, I am not a lawyer and I don't give legal advice. I enjoy trying to dig up answers and facts for people. ;-)

Sometimes, it is a good idea to keep your eyes open just in case you can get a better job. Only you know if that is what you need to do.

Best of luck, and thanks for asking the waitress!


  1. Unreasonable is an understatement!

    1. I want to know what the GM's salary is.

      Seriously, I have seen some restaurant workers that think if they do so much as pick up something off the floor that a waitress acccidentally dropped, they get a portion of the tips...

  2. Is this legal in Minnesota as well? Our manager takes 2% of our gratuities on groups of 12 or more.

    1. Is the manager helping with direct service on large groups? It seems that may make it legal. See this PDF:


  3. The owner of the restaurant I work in is taking a share in our tip pool when she waits tables on a busy night. Glad to know it is illegal! Now what can I do about it?

    1. Contact your state's department of labor, or the federal department of labor's wage and hour division.


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