Judge Rules in Dunkin’ Donuts Tip Case

An employee at a Dunkin’ Donuts Shop in North Reading, Massachusetts has brought a lawsuit against his employer on behalf of himself and those who are similarly situated, claiming that the company’s no-tips policy violates wage laws.  According to the lawsuit, the company doesn’t allow employees to keep tips and any tips that aren’t returned to customers must be placed in the cash register.

Judge Fabricant has ruled that the Massachusetts Wage Act doesn’t bar an employer from establishing a no-tips policy.   The employer must, however, communicate that policy to its customers effectively.  The plaintiffs can go forward on their claim that they were required to give tips over to management, which would be a violation of wage laws if proven.

In general, Massachusetts has very employee-friendly wage and hour laws.  Employees who win in court who win in court are entitled by law to triple the amount of their damages. In other words, if the employee proves that she is owed $10,000 in wages, the judge is required to automatically triple the award to $30,000.  The judge in the Dunkin’ Donuts case wasn’t willing to go so far as to state that employers can’t establish a no-tips policy.  It is very clear, however, that employees can’t be required to share their tips with management, which includes supervisors and host staff.  Where employees do not receive tips, they still must be paid minimum wage.

Please contact Boston labor and employment attorney, Maura Greene, Law Office of Maura Greene, LLC, Six Beacon St., Suite 205, Boston, MA 02108, at 617-936-1580 for a free consultation if you have any questions about your working situation.