Court Rules in Favor of Boyd Gaming Casino Dealer
A Kansas Star Casino dealer has won a legal battle against the casino’s parent company involving tip pooling.
In many hospitality industries, tipping is customary and a common occurrence. When it comes to employment positions, certain jobs will pay lower than minimum wage and make up the difference with tips. Tip pooling is a common practice, where businesses take tips and then spread them among employees at the end of a shift. This practice often takes place in restaurants and even casinos. But sometimes, the tip option does not go according to law.
A dealer of the Kansas Star Casino has taken the venue’s parent company, Boyd Gaming Corporation, to court, staying that the staff members who earn tips were underpaid. In a memorandum issued a few days ago, District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree agreed that the majority of the claims by the plaintiff were true and Boyd Gaming must make up for it.
Details of the Case
Roger James filed the lawsuit against Boyd, stating that the company was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding tips. This Act is a key law when it comes to employment. James was given an hourly wage that was less than minimum wage and then received tips via the tip pooling process. All dealers shared the tips provided by customers.
Based on the Act, an employer has the right to pay less than minimum wage if the employee receives tips. However, the employer must also make up the financial difference with a tip credit. According to the lawsuit, Boyd Gaming was not complying with the tip credit details in the Act. The mandatory tip pool also was not in compliance with the law.
Once James filed his lawsuit, an additional 16 people joined in as co-plaintiffs. These individuals were either working at casinos operated by the company or were former employees.
James was represented by Ryan McClelland who said that the legal team was happy that the court ruled in their favor, agreeing with the failure to provide notice of the tip credit requirements based on the law as well as unlawful tip pooling.
The decision will allow as many as 8,000 individuals who work for below minimum wage due to tips to come together in one case to fight for minimum wage rights.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for businesses to avoid complying with federal laws regarding minimum wage and tipping laws. Most employees put up with the illegal actions because they need a job or don’t have any idea how to act against the activity.
With the Boyd Gaming case, it will affect the company but also the casino industry at large. Casinos that follow the Act’s rules regarding tipping have nothing to worry about. However, those who are not following the law correctly or have not done so in the past, will be at risk. They may have to pay up to employees who were stiffed over the years.
It is expected that Boyd Gaming will settle this suit quickly. Experts that have analyzed the case believe that Boyd had zero argument and genuinely should have agreed to settle early on. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the settlement will be and just how much former and current employees involved in the case will receive.
The outcome is a victory for the plaintiffs but also the industry in general. Hopefully, this case will be a reminder that every employee should be treated fairly. We should see major changes within venues that are not compliant with the Act getting their act together so to speak, and ensuring that tip pooling is occurring in the correct manner to the employee’s benefit.