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Starbucks Tips Lawsuit Dismissed in New York Court

A lawsuit filed by five former Starbucks assistant store managers in Long Island and New York has been dismissed by a judge, CNBC reports.

A federal judge found that the world’s largest coffee chain didn’t cheat employees out of customer tips. In an ideal world, the employee/employer relationship is comfortable, smooth and without conflict. But in reality, there are times when New York employee benefits or other work-related issues come up and need to be addressed.
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Often, it’s important to consult with an employment law attorney to make sure an employer is following the rules.

In the Starbucks case, the assistant managers alleged that the plaintiffs had a right to share in money left in the plexiglass cube containers known as tip boxes that the company places beside cash registers. The former employees also alleged the company coerced or required them to put tips that customers left them personally into the boxes for all employees.

The conflict comes between baristas and shift supervisors, who are typically part-time hourly workers and store managers and assistant store managers, who are typically salaried and receive other benefits, such as holiday and sick pay and life insurance. The former group handle and receive tip box proceeds, according to the court rulings, while there is no written company policy regarding the latter group.

The former managers alleged Starbucks violated state labor law by denying them tips, given that they performed similar duties to eligible workers, and forcing them to contribute to tip pools. But the federal judge said the “plain language” of state labor law doesn’t grant workers any right to share in such pools.

Wage issues between employers and employees can be a difficult issue to bring up. For one, with New York’s unemployment rate at 7.9 percent in May, according to the New York State Department of Labor, people are willing to deal with some injustices to keep a steady paying job. Many people are searching for a job and therefore losing a job after complaining about a lost benefit or wage can be difficult for some people to consider.

But while rocking the boat may not be your style, holding companies accountable for breaking the law is necessary. There’s a reason there are laws on the books that regulate how employers are supposed to treat their workers and what obligations they have to create a fair environment where benefits are paid properly.

There are many areas of New York Employment Law that can help address and correct problems in the workplace. Many issues relate to unpaid benefits, wages and other matters businesses should be handling for their workers, such as:

• Pensions • Health plans • HIPAA • COBRA • Severance
• Fiduciary responsibilities • 401(k) plans • Compliance
Handling these matters requires care and yet the proper amount of force to resolve the issue and keep the employee from suffering discrimination and other wrongs on the job. Consulting with a Labor Lawyer can help you deal with the issue quickly and without litigation.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman handles employment and labor law in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

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