Is Trump Administration pushing a tip grab at the nation’s restaurants?

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — A proposed federal rule would allow restaurant owners to take gratuities and use them to pay non tipped employees and for other expenses.

It sounds like a fair idea; Take all the money that tipped employees that serve food and beverages make, and redistribute it so that un-tipped workers, like dishwashers, could share the wealth.

According to the Conneticut Restaurant Association, there are over 150,000 restaurant and food service jobs in Connecticut and that number is growing.  Because of Connecticut Labor Department regulations, restaurant owners are allowed to pay food servers and bartenders a few dollars less than minimum wage if their combined tips and pay add up to more than $10.10 per hour. It’s called the “Tip Credit.”

A proposed federal rule from the Trump Administration would allow restaurant owners to take the tips, pool them, and use them to pay kitchen help and others that do not get tips. But there is no guarantee they would do that.

“Redistribution of tips based on the owner’s will is very unjust and unfair,” said Matt Banta, a food server at “ION Restaurant” in Middletown.

Sara Dodge, another food server added, “Redistribution of tips would leave women at the mercy of their largely male managers compounding persistent problems of sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.”

The Connecticut Restaurant Association says the proposed federal rule would have minimal impact here in Connecticut because of the state “Tip Credit” regulation. Senator Richard Blumenthal came to the “ION Restaurant Monday, and said some Connecticut restaurants fail to follow the “Tip Credit” rules adding, “Responsible restaurant owners, in my view, should support continuing the “Tip Credit” rule and oppose the Department of Labor regulation even though the affect on Connecticut would be much less.”

Blumenthal also noted that there is a proposal before the General Assembly to do away with the “Tip Credit” rule which he says is another reason to oppose the federal proposal.

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