NY's top court: Starbucks baristas must share tips

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Starbucks baristas must share their tips with shift supervisors, but assistant managers are left out in the cold, the state’s highest court ruled Wednesday.

The Court of Appeals found that shift supervisors do much of the same work as the coffee servers and therefore get to share in the tips. It also ruled that the company, which is based in Seattle, can deny those tips to assistant managers.

The ruling, responding to two lawsuits, backed Starbucks’ policy of divvying up the tips, saying it’s consistent with labor law.

“We’re pleased the court found our customers should have the option to reward our partners for providing great service, and we’re pleased the New York Court of Appeals agreed our tipping policy is fair and appropriate under New York state law,” company spokeswoman Jaime Riley said.

Company spokesman Zack Hutson said the tip policy is applied consistently across the U.S. but not globally because laws differ in other countries.

Starbucks baristas are part-time workers who serve customers and share tips weekly based on hours worked.

Shift supervisors also are part-time wage workers who mostly serve customers but also assign baristas, provide input on their performances and direct the flow of customers.

Assistant managers are full time, get some benefits such as paid holidays and vacations and are eligible for bonuses.

Starbucks has nearly 18,000 retail stores in 60 countries. In April, it reported $3.6 billion in quarterly revenue. It had 413 company-owned stores in New York at the end of its last fiscal year.