Starbucks baristas must share their tips with shift supervisors, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday. The three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that because Starbucks' shift supervisors perform essentially the same functions as baristas—serving customers food and beverages—they were entitled to a portion of the shared tips. Baristas in Queens brought a lawsuit against the Seattle-based company in 2008, alleging that sharing tips with the supervisors violated a state law that prohibits management from sharing in employee tips.
Though technically given more responsibility than baristas, shift supervisors don't have authority that would allow them to fire an employee. "Thus, while shift supervisors may be able to coach baristas, they cannot formally discipline them," the panel said. "On this record, no fact finder could conclude that shift supervisors have such a 'substantial' degree of 'managerial responsibility' that they are no longer akin to 'general wait staff.'" This new ruling comes to the same conclusions as the New York Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of tip sharing earlier this year.
New York City baristas revealed to the Times that $1.20 to $1.80 an hour was the amount each barista earned in tips during an average shift. Average salaries hover around $10 after three years for both baristas and shift supervisors, meaning that with tips employees at the coffee giant earn a living wage; but just barely.