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New Rules Impose Systems for Sharing of Tips

Rosemarie Ingleton left a $110.40 tip on a $552 check at Indochine on Wednesday night, after making an ineffable calculation based on ambiance, food and, of course, service. But she did not give a lot of thought to how it would be distributed among the staff. “At a place like Indochine, where there are so many people attending to you, my assumption is that they’re sharing the tip at the end of the night — I’m hoping,” said Dr. Ingleton, a Manhattan dermatologist. “But I don’t really know.”  Few diners do, simply associating the tip they leave with the waiter who takes their orders. But how those tips are shared has become an increasingly contentious issue in the industry, stoking resentments among some workers and prompting a recent raft of lawsuits against some of New York’s most lauded dining rooms.

And now, restaurant managers are scrambling to comply with a new set of state labor regulations — issued two weeks ago and put into effect on Saturday — that for the first time seeks to clarify how restaurants should handle tips. In an acknowledgment of the time crunch, state labor officials are giving restaurants until the end of February to put changes in place, but they must be retroactive to Jan. 1.  “Never before were there any regulations regarding tips in New York State,” except for a mysterious paragraph in a 1968 law that barred employers from appropriating tips, said Jean Lindholm, a supervising labor standards investigator at the State Department of Labor. An inconsistent mixture of Labor Department opinions and lawsuit judgments has governed industry practice through the years, she said, adding, “It was time, long overdue, to clarify the rules.” (click on link to read full story)

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