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Starbucks Does Not Owe Its Baristas $105 Million

Starbucks Does Not Owe Its Baristas $105 Million — For Now

More than a year after a California court ordered Starbucks to pay its baristas $105 million in back tips, the 4th District Court of Appeal has reversed the ruling. It all started when former barista Jou Chau filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the 100,000 current and former baristas in the state of California, arguing that Starbucks was acting unlawfully by permitting shift supervisors to share tips.

The appeals court concluded that Starbucks supervisors should receive their fair share of tips because they "essentially perform the same job as baristas." The baristas are taking the issue to the top and plan to submit an appeal to the California Supreme Court. David Lowe, the baristas' lawyer, brought the argument full circle and said, "Up to this point, every court that has addressed this issue has found that an employer cannot pay supervisors from a tip pool. This is the first case that goes in a different direction."

When the initial ruling was announced last March, 62 percent of you agreed that Starbucks was disobeying the law and owed its baristas for the tips they shared with supervisors. For now, Starbucks has been declared the winner, but we'll have to wait and see what happens with the baristas' appeal.


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