A viral video made by a former server at a popular Port Stanley, Ont. eatery has raised questions about who gets to keep tips given at the end of a meal.
In the video, which was has been shared more than 5,000 times since it was posted on Saturday night, server Cayley Pozza tearfully explains a new policy at the restaurant which gives two per cent of the night's tips to management.
"It's not fair," she says. "It might not seem like much...but at the end of the day, that's a huge amount of money that someone like me, with little kids, I see that hit and it affects me."
The restaurant increased the percentage of tips that servers have to redistribute into a pool last week.
Servers at the restaurant wrote a letter complaining about the change, and then Pozza posted her video after quitting.
They say they like working at The Buccaneer, but that the increase is unfair.
Already, servers pay money to the hostess and the bartender, something they have no problem with, they say.
The person getting the increased "tip out," Chris Georgopoulos, is the manager of restaurant, said his lawyer, Gene Chiarello.
The increase goes from 1.5 per cent to two per cent.
Although staff thought Georgopoulos was the owner, it's actually his daughter that owns the restaurant, Chiarello said.
And that means the "tip out" is not illegal.
Who is allowed to get a share of tips
"The basic principle is that an employer can require to someone else, but it has to be going into a tip pool to distribute among others working," said Simone Ostrowski, a labour lawyer in Toronto.
"The issue comes when the owner tries to keep their own tips and the tip out. If it's a mom and pop shop, it's a matter of 'we all pitch in,' but if it's an owner (of a larger establishment), that's a different story."
The ministry of labour said there were no claims against The Buccaneer in the last six months, but reports say ministry of labour officials were at the restaurant yesterday to investigate.
Buccaneer server Taylor Guyett says customers often don't know that the tips they are giving to their server is going to management.
"We don't mind tipping out kitchen staff and bartenders and the hostess," Guyett said. "The whole point of this video and us speaking out is because we are all quite upset about it and we wanted to speak out. If Chris was working more in the actual restaurant, we would be fine."
Because the restaurant industry has a high turnover rate, it's open to abuse, said Ostrowski.
Servers might not know that owners shouldn't get a percentage of tips, or that owners can't charge staff for things such as breakage from tips, she said.