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Starbucks Owes Baristas $105 Million

Should Starbucks Owe Its Baristas $105 Million?

Lately, Starbucks has been as visible in the news as its stores are on the streets of San Francisco (and Manhattan, and Los Angeles, and...). The most recent headline features Starbucks and its tip jar — they made a California court appearance together, and the tip jar won. Well, more specifically, the baristas won $105 million in back tips in a suit surrounding the fact that Starbucks permitted shift supervisors to share tips. The New York Times explains that supervisors make coffee alongside baristas, but they also have managerial responsibilities like directing employees and setting schedules.

The baristas won because they had CA labor law in their favor. The law says that tips can be pooled among workers but owners and their "agents" (managers and supervisors) can't get a piece of the pool. Starbucks plans to appeal the decision and described it as “fundamentally unfair and beyond all common sense and reason.” Whose side are you on?


Join The Conversation
cereal_please cereal_please 9 years
I'm siding with Starbucks. I worked at a movie theater for a little over a year and we technically weren't allowed to take tips at all. But regardless of that, supervisors often worked alongside the regular employees doing the same things. I only got paid $.5 more than the regular employees too.
greystonegirl16 greystonegirl16 9 years
Fair warning: I am a shift supervisor at Starbucks, though not in California, so the ruling does not effect me. When they say that the managers do other duties like scheduling, paperwork, etc., they classify the time differently. When you are on the floor making drinks, cleaning the cafe, taking out the trash, batching out coffee, etc, you punch in as "coverage" time - you are practically identical to the baristas, and most of the time your customers can't even tell a difference. When you ARE in the back working on orders and stuff, you punch in as "non-coverage" time . . . so the time you are working as a barista and the time you are doing more "manager" like duties are clocked in differently. When we divide up tips, we only use the "coverage" time. You don't get tips for the time you spent working on other things. In my mind, that shows you right there that the RIGHT people are getting the tips. And every barista I have ever met has agreed with me. Shifts and baristas should BOTH get tips . . .
vanillakokakola vanillakokakola 9 years
My hubby used to work at Starbucks, and here's something you might not know... Typically, the shift supervisors and managers are behind the coffee machines just as much as the baristas! They're not sitting in the back room picking their nose and stealing tips - they're doing the same work (cashier, making drinks, cleaning, etc.), and SHOULD be getting tips. The way this case is worded makes it seem like the managers were just in the back room on the computer stealing from the tip "piggy bank", but that's totally untrue.
wrngco wrngco 9 years
starbucks is known to be a fair employer but in this case they just need to pay their staff more the coffee prices are over inflated as it is so for 5.00 for a cup of coffee and a tip bin starbucks should pay enough where there is not a need for a tip bin but mcdonalds is set to wipe them out at this point the mcdonalds coffee is delicious
Berlin Berlin 9 years
Yes, what they did was they owe them 105 Million? I don't think so
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
seeing as how i abhore starbucks, i am glad they have to pay back employees they have stolen from, THAT SAID..they should now pay me for the overpriced bitter sludge that they call coffee.
mjane79 mjane79 9 years
Yes, what Starbucks did is apparantly illegal under California law but having worked in the food industry? Shift supervisors barely make more than the other workers and are doing the same job and their superivisor duties. If supervisor happened to serve me at a sit-down restaurant, I would expect the tip I left to go to them. If they served me at Starbucks and I left a tip, I would want them to get a part of those tips. Either Starbucks needs to up their pay for the supervisors in California to make up for the difference in not receiving tips or California needs to revise their law and more clearly define determines a supervisor who can not share in the tips.
SanDiegoLove SanDiegoLove 9 years
STORE MANAGERS and ASSISTANT MANAGERS at Starbucks do NOT get tips. Shift Supervisors and Baristas split tips and I think it's UTTERLY RIDICULOUS that some jaded former barista is saying it shouldn't be that way. I was a Shift at Starbucks for 2 years and can attest to the sentiment that Shifts do 95% of the same work as Baristas. With the exception of being in charge of the cash (registers, safes) and directing workflow on the floor...I did the same exact work as all the Baristas in my stores. Not only did I make drinks and serve products but I did dishes, cleaned drains, took out the trash, etc. It's unfortunate that CA law is this way. I know it inconveniences more people than just those employed at Starbucks. More often than not the raise in base pay does not make up for the tips lost by getting a promotion. I hope Starbucks appeal brings this issue to light, no matter what the result of the lawsuit. CA legislation regarding this matter needs to change.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
No way. Management should not get tips, period.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i think that it's legit to say that they deserve something - if the supervisors are splitting the money - but i don't know if it's $105 million worthy.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 9 years
I'll be honest, my pay raise from 3.85 to 5.50 still kept me well below minimum wage when I went from server to supervisor, and I would have been livid if they decided that, in addition to doing the work servers do and more work reserved for supervisors, I was entitled to the same overall wage. Supervisors do a barista's work PLUS supervisor work, so they should be entitled to the tips that a barista makes. That said, Starbucks broke the law, and therefore they should have to pay their workers. I do think the law is ridiculous.
JessBear JessBear 9 years
Annebreal and flutterpie make good points, but it sounds like this applies to not just managers, but to shift supervisors as well. I work part-time as a shift supervisor in food service, and I get paid $1 more per hour than the lowest paid 16 year old. There's only one MANAGER per store, but 3 or 4 shift supervisors, and, unlike the manager, shift supervisors (at least at my job) aren't salaried, don't have benefits, and don't get bonuses. We get paid a little more to do the same job as everyone else, plus count the money, run the reports, and lock up at the end of the night. In fact, we're usually the ones in the tippable positions, while "lesser" employees do dishes or clean. In my ample food service experience, even as Assistant Manager, I've never spent ANY time sitting around schedule planning or sidelines managing. I tell everyone what their job for the evening is AS I'm doing dishes or making orders, and any schedule making, paperwork, or food ordering is done after hours and AFTER I've helped clean. From what I know (which isn't everything), Starbucks is set up much like this- shift supervisors do about 10% "shift supervising" and 90% WORK. Sorry for the length. That's my two cents.
flutterpie flutterpie 9 years
when restaurants are short staffed, managers do what needs to be done. everyone knows that when you take a managerial position you get the benefits, schedule setting, higher pay and better benefits and the drawbacks, no tips. starbucks is not above the law and they should of made sure that managers were doing very little coffee making in order to follow the law. its just another case of a corporation trying to save a buck at the expense of its employees
annebreal annebreal 9 years
I always thought the rule for restaurants is that the proprietors and managers don't get tipped, and that's probably what this law refers to...sounds like the last thing Starbucks needs at this point though.
eyelet eyelet 9 years
Julie - really well said. If the supervisor is in the back room putting together a schedule, that's one thing. Most of these supervisors are on the front lines for most of the shift, however, pulling shots with the rest of their team. It would only make sense that they get tips for coffee they MADE, even if their wages are slightly higher to start. Starbucks may need to redefine the roles of its employees to correspond to the law, though. I am thinking allowing supervisors to classify x% of their shifts as regular baristas that corresponds with the time they spend out front making coffee, and get tipped accordingly. Legalese is so tricky.
julieulie julieulie 9 years
If what they are doing is illegal, then it's illegal, plain and simple. I do agree with Starbucks that it doesn't make SENSE, though. If the supervisors are just as responsible for making drinks, but have additional duties on the side, then they should get to split the tip pool, as long as they're pulling their weight making coffee. If I made drinks all day and didn't get a cut of the tips for it, I'd be pretty pissed!
Meike Meike 9 years
While I'm not a heavy fan of corporations abusing their lesser employees with low wages, this does not sound fair to the managers/supervisors who are actually working along side the baristas.
princessjaslew princessjaslew 9 years
kinda hard to say esp if the managers too are making coffee alongside with the baristas. i guess the problem is that they kinda fall into a grey area.
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