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First Circuit finds that Massachusetts Starbucks stores violate tip sharing law

Today, the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s holding that Starbucks violated Massachusetts’ tip sharing law. A group of current and former Starbucks baristas (employees who serve customers) brought this class action against Starbucks because Starbucks required them to share the money deposited in tip jars with shift supervisors. Under Massachusetts law, an employee may not share in a tip pool unless he has “no managerial responsibility.” The court held that while shift supervisors perform mostly the same duties as baristas they also have some, limited, managerial responsibilities. But, the Court held, “‘no’ means ‘no'” in the Massachusetts law and, as such, since shift supervisors had some managerial responsibility, Starbucks could not give them any of the tips from the tip jars.

The First Circuit affirmed the trial court’s decision to award actual and liquidated damages exceeding $14,000,000 to the class of current and former baristas who worked in any of the approximately 150 Starbucks stores in Massachusetts.