Q&A on Legal Issues of Sharing Tips with Chauffeurs

Posted on May 28, 2008 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

ORLANDO, Fla. — Question: I worked for a small limousine company as a driver and made most of my pay in tips. The tips were sometimes in cash, but they were often part of the credit-card payment that would be made ahead of time with the owner.

The owner would never let me see the credit-card receipts, and I suspected he was pocketing at least some of the tips meant for me.

In at least two instances, the people I chauffeured told me they had put a large tip on the credit card. When I asked the owner about it, he told me the money was his.

He paid me an hourly rate that was well above the minimum wage, but my weekly paychecks were nowhere near the actual money I earned.

Do I have a legal right to see the credit-card slips, or is there any other recourse in getting back the several hundred dollars that I am owed?

Answer: The employer doesn't have to show you the credit-card slips, and you don't have a wage-and-hour claim since you were paid above the minimum wage, said Dorothy Green, a labor-and-employment lawyer with Latham, Shuker, Eden & Beaudine in Orlando.

But the employer does not have a legal right to siphon off tips that were meant for you. The only way to assert your legal right, however, is to sue the owner, and the amount is small enough that you could do it in small-claims court, Green said.

With a legal proceeding, the owner likely would be required to produce the credit-card slips as part of the discovery process, she added.

The cost to file in small-claims court is either $80 or $155, depending on whether the disputed amount is less or more than $500.

The owner would be required to pay your court fees, as well as the money he owes you, if you prevail, Green said.

Source: Orlando Sentinel

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