Proposed Bill to Ensure Service Staff Keep All Their Tips

Mar 15, 2013

There’s a renewed push on Smith Hill this year to get a bill passed that would ban the theft of tips by managers. 

Tip Left at Restaurant Table
Credit courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The legislation, sponsored by State Representative Chris Blazejewski, would prohibit owners, managers and supervisors from taking any portion of workers tips. Currently, employers can take as much of an employee’s gratuities as they wish, provided the worker is left enough to earn minimum wage.

Joe DeFrancesco is a former hotel worker who became a YouTube sensation when, with the help of a marching band, quit his job. He says the practice is widespread in the service industry. "Sometimes it is this larger systemic where a hotel or chain restaurant wants to be making a few extra dollars. Sometimes it’s smaller scale and it’s just one or two wayward managers. But it’s pretty evident why they do it. They want to make more money and there’s currently no federal law against it and so they’re getting away with it all over the place."

The same bill cleared the House last year but stalled in the Senate Labor Committee. Rhode Island would become the 16th state to ban tip theft if the law passes.
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