Lawsuits mount against Starbucks tip policy

NEW YORK Starbucks is facing more charges of tip-pooling violations with the filing Thursday of a lawsuit in New York.

Filed on behalf of barista Jeana Barenboim and potentially 2,000 others who worked for Starbucks in New York state over the past six years, the lawsuit charges Starbucks with inappropriately allowing shift supervisors to share in pooled gratuities. State law prohibits employees in supervisory positions to share in pooled tips.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, seeks at least $5 million in restitution, and attorneys have requested class-action status.

The coffeehouse giant faces similar litigation in Massachusetts and Minnesota. Those cases were filed last week, just days after a Superior Court judge in San Diego ordered Starbucks to pay more than $100 million in restitution to thousands of current and former baristas because of the company’s nationwide policy of allowing shift supervisors to share in the tip jar.

Starbucks officials have pledged to appeal the ruling in California and to fight any “copy-cat lawsuits.”

Starbucks contends that shift supervisors are hourly employees who have no managerial authority and are entitled to the tips they earn for providing customer service.