The rule was intended to encourage more sharing of tips with cooks and dishwashers. But critics said it would have allowed business owners to pocket the money themselves. When the Labor Department asked for public comment on the proposal, more than 375,000 people responded.
"Workers across the country organized and made their voices heard," Murray says. "Those workers sent the Trump administration a message."
Many restaurant servers are already required to share a portion of their tips with hostesses and busboys. But restaurant owners have not been allowed to require such tip pooling with "back-of-the-house" workers. Some owners complain that creates an unfair pay gap between tipped workers in the "front of the house," and lower-paid workers in the kitchen.
"Cooks historically and even today have always received the short end of the stick in terms of the tip world," says Kurt Huffman, who runs more than two dozen restaurants in Portland, Ore.
Kitchen workers in his restaurants earn starting wages of about $13.50 an hour. With tips, servers can earn two or three times as much.
The spending bill passed this week amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow mandatory tip sharing with back-of-the-house employees. But it also includes explicit safeguards to prevent employers from skimming tips or using that money to compensate managers and supervisors.
"This is a huge victory for tipped workers everywhere," says Judi Conti, government affairs director for the National Employment Law Project. "It makes clear that tips are the property of workers and under no circumstances can employers keep them."
Conti notes the legislation allows for broader tip pools only when all of the workers in the pool are paid at least minimum wage. The measure also adds robust penalties for tip theft and allows workers to sue to recover any tips that are stolen.
Copyright 2018 NPR.