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Tipping in New York City: Is it Now Something of the Past?

Eliminating tipping practices could influence many New York servers

Many servers across New York City rely on tips to help support the meager income from working in the food service industry. Some restaurants, however, have recently decided to eliminate tipping entirely. This change is poised to affect the entire industry, but in particular, those servers who rely on tip money. The movement started with Union Square Hospitality group deciding to eliminate tipping from all of its establishments. The company currently owns and operates 13 restaurants throughout New York City.

According to Union Square Hospitality CEO, deciding to eliminate tipping completely provides opportunities for career advancement for nearly 2000 workers employed by the operation. The theory behind this decision is that tipping regulations can create serious pay discrepancies for workers at the front of the house and those working in the kitchen.

The restaurant known as 'The Modern' inside The Museum of Modern Art has also elected to eliminate tips beginning in November. Other restaurants owned by the same company will phase out tipping in the year 2016. The company operating these restaurants did advise that prices might rise in some establishments to help cover this change in compensation. The CEO, though, argues that diners will not feel the impact in a significant way. It’s also important to note that this establishment isn't the first one to consider eliminating tipping.

 In fact, the momentum behind the movement to eliminate tipping completely is gathering some steam in New York City. Chef Tom Colicchio was the first to eliminate tipping at his lunch service and his flagship restaurant, Craft in New York City. Since the service was new to patrons, it wasn't too difficult to introduce the concept of eliminating tipping to patrons. Colicchio argued that the move was necessary because he felt tipping was a thing of the past. He said staff come in and work very hard for their wages and they should be compensated fairly, and not have to leave too much of their income up to chance.

Wait staff, servers and hosts at restaurants may have come to rely on tips, but this could change if more restaurants pick up on this trend. Some servers and wait staff believe tipping is unfair to begin with, since it puts too much power in the hands of consumers who can choose to make decisions that ultimately have a negative effect on wait staff who are working hard. Leaders in the industry supporting this change believe working as wait staff at the front of the house or in the kitchen requires knowledge and skills crucial to the development and growth of a business. Leaving staff pay up to chance with tipping could drive away employees who might otherwise excel at this opportunity. 

Have you been denied fair wages or been the victim of an illegal employment practice?  If so, contact leading New York employment lawyers at Hepworth Gershbaum & Roth PLLC at 212-545-1199 or online for a free, confidential consultation.





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