NJ legal to take Tips to make up for discrepancy in register?

Hello,
Im not sure if its just a jerk move or illegal, I work at a Dunkin Donuts in NJ and there are 4 people that use the register in the mornings (everyone uses the same account) so, either someone took money (20 bucks) or accidentally gave the wrong change,

Either way, the owner came in and decided that he would just take 20 dollars from the tip jar (that is on the counter) to make the register “right”

So that day each of us got 5 dollars less in tips.
Is this even legal?? (if not who do i report it too)

If it matters, we are not tip wage employees, we get min wage + tips are split among the employees working at the time. im in nj (just a summer job) not sure if that matters

Thank you all

IANAL, but everytime I have heard this come up, it has been illegal for the employer to do that. Contact your local Department of Labor. They love cases like this.

Ask your employer point-blank, “If the register is OVER by $40 next week, are you going to take that money and move it to the tip jar?”. That will probably show him the error of his ways.

IANAL but I think it’s illegal. Employers are not allowed to treat employees like subcontractors. There are many aspects to this, but the three big ones are #1 Employees are required to show up at a certain time while contractors start and finish when it is convenient for them, #2 Employees can be micromanaged but contractors should be largely unsupervised, and #3 Contractors are held responsible for their own mistakes and can be forced to fix them without additional compensation, but when employees make mistakes the responsibility falls on the employer to fix them even if it means paying the exact same employee more money to work more hours to fix their own mistake.

If your boss won’t back down, I suggest you contact the NJ dept of Labor and Workforce Development.

Bear in mind that New Jersey is an “at-will” state, and before contacting anyone you should consider if $5.00 is worth getting fired over. There’s a lot of people who will go on and on about what’s right, and how the Department of Labor is just going to love getting you your five bucks back, but none of them will help you pay your rent.

If you go into it with the attitude that crappy jobs are easy to find, knock yourself out.

If someone is fired in retaliation for reporting a violation of labor laws, that’s an even bigger violation. It’ll cost the employer a hell of a lot more than 5 dollars to clean up that mess.

Fired for something else. Or laid off with a couple other people. It’s hard to prove and potentially costly.

It’s cute that you would think so, but not likely. They’ll claim it was for something else, like $20.00 missing from the cash register. We know that happens, right? Or they’ll cut his hours, and make him start working split shifts, "All right, you’re on from 4:00 am until 6:00 am for the breakfast, then 10:00 pm until midnight for closing. He shows up two minutes late or drops a dish and he’s out the door.

The OP is just summer labor, so may last out the season, but I doubt it, and even if he does, it’ll cost much more than five dollars.

Do you think for a moment that the employer doesn’t know it’s illegal? He doesn’t care, he does it because he can get away with it. The guy running the shop didn’t just fall off a turnip truck.

No, because that encourages employees to short change customers in order to line their pockets. Just like employers don’t (can’t, I assume) require the cashier to correct short drawer with their own money.
Remember, as stated in the OP, these are not tipped employees (well, they are, but they’re getting paid a regular wage, not a waitstaff wage).

Bill Door, I run a store, I’m aware that it would be illegal to do this to a tipped employee, but what about a regular one?

Doug, yes, it’s very illegal to fire someone for reporting you, that’s pounded in to my head all the time. The OP is totally welcome to report the employer, but here’s how I see that playing out.
The OP reports the employer, employer fires OP, OP out of a job. Illegal, yes, but the OP is out of a job regardless.

Or

The OP reports the employer, employer takes his lumps and moves on with life. A few days weeks later, money is missing from the register, employer figures out who made the mistake (or stole the money) and fires that person. OP (for the sake of the argument) is out of a job.

You could report him and see what happens. Honestly, might be nothing, he might never do it again and that’ll be the end of it, he might not have known that it was illegal, it may just have been the way he made the register work out. Contrary to what everyone seems to think, not every.single.employer is out to screw their employees at every opportunity.
You’re other option is look for another job. If you’re working for minimum wage (plus tips) at a DD, a lateral move to another fast food place shouldn’t, I assume, be a difficult transition, financially or otherwise.

Especially if as you mentioned, this is a summer job. Telling most potential employers that you can only be there in the summer is the kiss of death. Even if you are incredibly good at the job, they would still have to search for and hire someone else in the fall.

Moderator Action

Since this involves legal issues and opinions, it is better suited to IMHO.

Moving thread from GQ to IMHO.

Except that it’s extremely common for high school and college-age student to be available only for the summer. And for some work sites (theme parks, vacation accommodations and so forth), this is their peak season. So it can work nicely for both employer and employee.

It was certainly illegal for your employer to steal $20 from your tip jar. Just as it would be illegal for you to take $5 worth of supplies home to reimburse you for that theft from you.

But what goes around comes around, as they say.

The point of my post is that we all know the answer is No. That’s the whole reason for asking the question. If you ask the boss “Hey, can we take the overage from the cash register and move it to the tip jar?”, the answer is definitely going to be a resounding “No”. And this fact should demonstrate to the boss that the answer to the question “Hey, should we make up the underage in the cash register by taking it from the tip jar?” must be an equally resounding “No.” Both questions should have the same answer.

I once got kicked out of a job interview because I mentioned that I was leaving for college in the fall. I had done some vo-tech classes in broadcasting and film making in high school. After graduation, I interviewed for a broadcast technician job at a community TV station. Once I mentioned that I was only available to work in the summer, they ended the interview and told me that they needed someone who could be there year round.