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How would you tip? (moved from Boston board)

How would you tip at a restaurant knowing that the house keeps all the tips? An acquaintance of mine who works for a Boston area pho place said her owner pays her and all the waiters ~$100 bucks a day and in return keep all the tips. Is this a fair and legal deal for everyone?

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  1. from my understanding of MA tip wage law, the aforementioned practice is illegal. While managers are allowed to require tip pooling, but they are not allowed to keep ANY of the money. Here's the law; http://www.mass.gov/Cago/docs/Workpla.... Maybe encourage your friend to call the Atty Gen about it. (617) 727-3465.

    So, it sounds shady all around. As for tipping, I would worry that if I tipped light on the house bill, but handed her some extra $, the boss would become suspicious.

    1. It is EXTREMELY illegal in Massachusetts and many restaurants have been busted for this. It's an open invitation to prosecution. They will probably need to account for their theft and settle up if they want to avoid prosecution.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Karl S

        This extremely popular pho places already got busted before and had paid heavy fines for other some wage-related violations. So how would you tip knowing the house get all the tips?

        1. re: joebloe

          If I "knew", I would not patronize the place to begin with.

      2. I'd find a new place to go - if I know the place is operating illegally, I would rather not support it.

        1. Legal issues aside, I would slip a couple of dollars (whatever the appropriate % of the bill), and then leave nothing as the formal "house tip".

          1. I wouldn't tip at all.

            1. There is a major lawsuit just being filed in South Portland, Maine about this subject. Nine former employees of a Chinese buffet claim (probably rightly so, my reliable sources tell me) that they were not paid hourly or overtime AND had to pay a kick-back from their tips. Their lawyer places the overall value of the case at about $500,000.00. In the meantime, these people were housed four/five to a room while the owner lives in a gorgeous home in the suburbs.

              My source, who is Chinese and just became a citizen, says she worked under these same conditions at more than one restaurant while she was working in an illegal capacity. She was here legally but did not have a work permit. These places also do not ring up cash sales and do not pay their payroll taxes properly. No one complains for fear of being fired and/or deported.

              Until/unless someone blows the whistle they will continue to get away with it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: soxlover

                It is an industry standard for Chinese restaurants outside of a 50-mile radius of a major city to house their employees. Sadly, some restaurants only provide "dormitory" style housing where many will sleep in one room. The majority, however, are far more enlightened and provide better situations.

                The restaurants that don't ring up cash sales and don't pay proper payroll taxes are the exception, not the rule. Sadly, the perception of the dining public is the opposite.

                Let me assure you that State wage and hour inspectors, and State and Federal tax audits, disclose the culprits on a monthly basis. Sadly, the many (of us in the Chinese restaurant business) must suffer for the sins of a few.

              2. Legal issues aside, consider your tip a labor charge....which is fairly common on bills presented to members of country clubs.

                Personally, if I were a student, and I could find a job where the owner of a restaurant guaranteed me $100, I would be very happy. There are a lot of stiffs out there, which many on this site will attest to.

                With regards to restaurants operating with illegal practices......if you boycotted said places....there would be very few places to go to. Just think about undocumented workers or owners not paying correct taxes due. It not just relevant and isolated to Asian restaurants. Your favorite five star place may be guilty of infractions too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: fourunder

                  Maybe the workers would rather be paid a guaranteed $100 cash per day and forgo the tips. There are lots of people on Masshealth and Section 8 and foodstamps that want to be paid cash only so they can keep all their benefits. There are always two sides to the story so I will withold my judgement.