In an important recent ruling, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the decision of an Atlanta-based federal District Court, denying an employee the opportunity to pursue a class action against her employer for keeping some of the employees’ tips. The key to the employer’s victory in both courts was the limitations on private lawsuits contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act’s language. Since that law only allowed private lawsuits in cases of unpaid overtime or failure to meet the minimum wage, neither of which occurred in this case, the employee had no legal right to pursue a private class action.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) outlines a number of requirements regarding the payment of employees who regularly receive over $30 per month in tips. According to these requirements, tips are to remain property of the employee and cannot be confiscated by an employer except in cases where a tip credit or tip pool is applicable.