Wynn and Where Does Tip Sharing Stop?

This week, two Wynn Las Vegas employees sued the hospitality giant over the tip-sharing practice employed in the clubs. The lawsuit, which is proposed to be a class action representing workers at Tryst and XS and was filed in federal court in Vegas, says Wynn’s policy that requires union-covered nightclub employees to share tips with members of the management is in violation of the contract between Wynn and the Culinary Union.

The club policy follows Wynn’s other tip-sharing policy, which requires casino dealers to share tips with managers in an attempt to attract more people to the often lower-paying middle-management positions (lower-paying partially because they don’t earn tips like dealers do).

As you know, in a bar or club, bartenders and servers are the people regularly getting tipped, not managers. But management certainly can help make or break service at a bar or club, can they not? So shouldn’t they be rewarded for high-quality service? It seems odd that some bartenders could be making more than their bosses, once tips are added into the equation, strictly from a typical hierarchical standpoint, doesn’t it? And does the money factor hinder the careers of said bartenders or servers, keeping them in those positions rather than aspiring to management level?

On the other hand, managers in clubs often get other benefits that servers, bartenders and VIP hosts may not receive, such as health insurance, bonuses and more. While it undoubtedly makes sense to tip out the cooks, barbacks and other behind-the-scenes line-level employees who make the service as great — or abysmal — as it is, should that be extended to someone above them in the hierarchy?

It seems to me the logical decision is to increase managers’ salaries so there isn’t such a discrepancy. While it might hurt your club’s bottom line, it could also make your employees on every level work harder— not just for the tips, but also in hopes that some day they might become management material, with all its perks.

I don’t know all the answers. This might just be an ideal strategy, not something that works in the real world. How does it work at your club? Is the tip-pooling model fair to all? Or do the servers and bartenders deserve to hold onto every penny they make? Sound off in the comments below or e-mail me at [email protected] — we want to hear what you have to say.

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