O.K., Now what about coatcheck girls?

Now that another thread has produced a definitive answer to the question of whether casino blackjack dealers get to keep the tips gamblers give them (they do), it is time to ask a related question. I have always heard that coatcheck girls (I have never seen a male coatcheck person) do not get to keep the tips they are given, all the tips are turned over to the hotel, restaurant, auditorium, whatever. Because of this, although I am usually a big tipper, I never tip coatcheck girls. Is this true? Do coatcheck girls get to keep their tips?

I have seen help-wanted ads (not many, but a few) that state that the coat-checkers are independent contractors and actually rent the space. That may not be true in all cases, but at least in some, the checkers are paying for the privilege of checking your coat, and keep 100% of your tip.

May I suggest that the question the OP is trying to ask is, Are there any jobs for which tips are turned over to the proprietors of the business?

I’ve never heard of that as a practice, though I’ve never been in any jobs that receive tips.

I think in most states, it’s prohibited by law.

In New York State, employers can require employees to share their tips with other service employees (ie, waitresses sharing with bus boys), but they can’t take a cut themselves.

Bear in mind that employees who receive tips can be paid (and often are) less than minimum wage.

In the interests of anti-sexual discrimination… i was a coat check guy! This was in the UK and i was allowed to keep my tips(if any, as tipping is not really big there).

On another note my wife works at Waffle House and receives the grand sum of just over two dollars an hour and she keeps all her tips, which on a good day can work out to about 12 dollars an hour. However the government taxes her on what she is expected to be tipped not what she actually is tipped. So next time you go to a Waffle House make sure to eat cheaply or tip well, because it is so backwards that if your have a huge ticket, and don’t tip, it actually costs her money to wait on you in tax.

Apologies for the total hijack here:

As a 6 year Waffle House veteran, I offer a word of advice. Not sure how long your wife has been there, or whether her store is corporate of franchise owned, but:

She should take her base wage, and subtract it from your local minimum wage. the result is of course the amount of tips she needs to gross per hour to make minimum wage. If she does not make that much, Waffle House must make up the difference, so on slow days EXACT tip amount should be reported when she clocks out.

On the other side of the coin, EXACT tip amount should be reported on the good days as well. You cannot be asked to pay income taxes on money you didn’t earn. You can slide by with only reporting the amount in tips it would have taken to bring you to min. wage (I did it for years) but this is not advisable because it’s frankly illegal. I could have gotten in a lot of trouble, and I know servers that have. The amount you report in tips is then (in corporate stores) deducted from your hourly wage on your paycheck as ‘tip credit’, so allowing more than you actually made to be reported screws you out of more of your base hourly pay.

I’ll stop this here to prevent further hijacking, and I don’t intend to be condescending in any way. You guys may know all this, but I know the managers don’t typically explain it very well. I ran a store for a long time, feel free to PM me if I can be of any assistance in helping your lady maximize her money.
As for the OP - Why not ask them? It’s probably different rules for different establishments. It’s generally a good idea to tip anyone who is doing you a service, and SOMEONE is paying for that person to be there and available for you. In my experience, restaurant coat-checks are usually lower-wage tipped employees, either paid on a similar scale to servers or tipped out at the end of the night. Hotel and casino or nightclub coat-checks are more likely to be independent contractors, hiring their services out to the establishment and renting the space, as Sigmagirl suggested.

Very few people will be offended or put off by an honest question about how they make their income, especially if it may mean they end up making more money.

At SissieHomie’s college graduation, the keynote speaker was a woman who was a journalist of some kind. She had a popular column in which she shined a light on businesses involved in unethical or unsavory practices, and some careers had been (justifiably) ruined by her investigations. She mentioned an incident that took place at some point in her journalism career. Here’s what happened:

Journalist Lady (JL) and her husband were at a fancy banquet hall in their city. As JL and her husband were leaving, they stopped by the coat check to grab their coats. JL remarked to the coat check lady that she (the coat check lady) looked tired, and directed her husband to put $10 in the tip jar. The coat-check lady responded that she didn’t get to keep the tips, the venue did. JL’s story radar started going off.

The next morning JL was on the phone with the manager of the banquet hall wanting an explanation. The manager, upon hearing JL’s name, immediately went into defensive mode, claiming that it was industry practice, etc. JL published her article anyway, and within hours the banquet hall was getting calls from angry customers cancelling their upcoming events. The hall lost a lot of business, until they went on local radio publicly reversing their tips policy.

So yes, in some places, the venues do, apparently, keep the coat-check girls’ tips.

But isn’t it possible that independent contractors rent the space and then hire and pay the coat checkers and expect them to turn over all the tips?

This was, believe it or not, something of a major controversy in Cleveland a few years ago, after a popular newspaper columnist did some digging and learned that most coatcheck girls (and guys) weren’t allowed to keep their tips. Most big restaurants and clubs now say otherwise, but I still have my doubts. But by all means ask!

Of course. That is more likely the case with a high-volume event than day-to-day operations, unless it’s a truly huge venue.

See Post #7. I heard the “popular columnist” speak at SissieHomie’s college graduation!

Well, on the one hand, if the coatcheck person is not keeping the tips, they are (presumably) getting paid at least minimum wage, rather than subminimum + tips. It’s more deceptive to the customer, who may think he is tipping a pretty girl and/or a contractor working only for tips, than necessarily a bad deal for the employee. Minimum wage + tips would be pretty good money for checking coats. Flat minimum wage for checking coats is still not a horrible gig, since not much skill is required and you probably have a fair amount of downtime. I can think of at least 3 worse jobs I did for mimimum wage.

Can’t believe I missed that. :smack:

Hey EH, are you aware of the columnist’s name? No one in our family remembers or seems to know where we kept our souvenir copies of SissieHomie’s graduation program. I’d love to read one of her books, if she has any. She was a great speaker!

It’s Connie Schultz, who’s married to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown: http://www.cleveland.com/schultz/blog/

Looks like she has a couple of books:

Thanks for the share Time Like Tears, ill ask my wife to read your post in the morning, it certainly seems like that would help out on second shift!