All of the tipping, for non-waitress/waiter services, even self-serve eateries!  It is everywhere.  It seems it developed during Covid to get employees an incentive to come to work during those hard times.   However, it has never gone away since.  It has only gotten worse. 

 Please don’t think I don’t appreciate folks who do these service jobs.  I do.  I normally always tip.  I tip many times out of pressure, as the employee is sitting right there staring at you, and you have people in line right behind you, all wondering if you are gonna do it, or not.  I crumble under the pressure nearly always.   Most times I actually am glad to do it, especially when the person behind the counter has been exceptionally nice and helpful.  They are deserving.

However, after you put in your tip, when is your “tip”  not a tip?   I have recently learned through some service related employees that their employers are not giving the employees any of the “tips” I have left for them.  Instead, the employers are using the tips to supplement the hourly wage they pay their employees.   One worker recently explained it like this:   “When I got my first check, I asked [the boss] why, of all the tips we get, is that not reflected in my paycheck.  She quickly explained to me that she promised me a higher than average wage, and she is keeping that promise. However, the tips supplement the hourly wage, and that is why she could afford to pay me the $3/per extra above other similar jobs.”


 As a customer, we are not told up front that the alleged “TIP” is going to the employer to supplement their pay agreements with their own employees.   If the checkout screen said, “Would you like to supplement the owner’s pockets and cut their wage costs?” I don’t think you would have nearly as much money paid at the tip jar. 

 The Tennessee Consumer Protection Act protects Tennessee Consumers from “fraudulent and deceptive” business practices.   Here are some examples from the law in Tennessee:

  • You are not allowed to misrepresent services of a particular standard if they are another. 
  • You are not allowed to falsely pass off services as those of another (i.e. owner’s services switched for employees’ services). 
  • You cannot conduct trade that would likely cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the source of services.
  • You cannot represent that services have benefits that they do not have.  All of these above items are specifically outlined in T.C.A. 47-18-104 in Tennessee Law. 

 If you work for an employer that is conducting business in this manner, and if you are getting short-changed in your work because your owner is stealing your tips, call me.

John Griffith
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Nashville Personal Injury Trial Attorney
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