Under California Labor Code section 351, tips are the “sole property” of the employees for whom they are left. As such, “employers” may not “collect, take, or receive” employee tips.

The issue in this case was who is the “employer” for purposes of section 351? At Starbucks, “shift supervisors” shared tips with other baristas. A Superior Court Judge in San Diego decided that the shift supervisors were not entitled to the tips at issue because they are “supervisor employers” for the purposes § 351. He ordered Starbucks to pay $100 million in back tips and interest to the non-supervisor baristas who shared the tips with their shift supervisor baristas. It should be noted that the shift supervisors worked side-by-side with the non-supervisor baristas performing many of the same tasks.