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Lawmakers Propose To End Tip Pooling

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSPD) -- Many restaurants in Ohio use a practice known as tip pooling to help bring some employee's earnings up to minimum wage. It's something that many servers say is unfair.

"You're not getting paid based on the work you're doing, you're getting paid based on your time there," said Domingo Fontanez who works at a restaurant in Akron.

Tip pooling removes a certain percentage of each patron's bill from a server's paycheck. That money is then distributed to other staff like a hostess or table busser. 

"Ohio law is silent currently with respect to tip pooling therefore many restaurants have taken advantage of the practice," said State Rep. Nickie Antonio, a Democrat from Lakewood.

In Kentucky, where Ashleigh Taylor worked for a while, the practice is not allowed to be mandatory, but it is voluntary. She would often tip a hostess that did a good job more.

"The host staff there received minimum wage plus our tips which act as an extra incentive for their hard work," she said.

But when Taylor transferred within the same restaurant chain to a location in Columbus she was told tip pooling was mandatory. One thing she says the practice doesn't consider is if a customer leaves a small tip or no tip at all.

"The company still pulls 2.25 percent off my total sales," she said. "I'm losing money on that table."

Destany Carroll, who also works in Akron, figures she's probably taken home more than $1,700 less thanks to mandatory tip pooling.

Antonio thinks the practice is unfair. She's introduced a bill that would block it from being mandatory, but still allow it on a voluntary basis. It's modeled after Kentucky's law.

The Ohio Restaurant Association opposes the bill.

"The scenario put forth by Rep. Antonio is clearly not representative of industry practices," said spokesman Jarrod Clabaugh.

Clabaugh was unaware of any situations in Ohio where servers were encouraged to contribute to a tip pool when no tip was left.

 

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