Akin Gump Client Starbucks Wins Critical Victory on Tip-Distribution Policy

(New York) – On June 26, in a landmark decision, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that Akin Gump client Starbucks Corp.’s shift supervisors can share tips left for baristas, but that its assistant managers have sufficient supervisory responsibility to deny them gratuities under the law.

Two lawsuits had been filed in 2008: one by a class of baristas who claimed that shift supervisors should have been excluded from the tip pool and who sought damages in the amount of all tips received by these supervisors throughout New York during the class period; the other by a class of assistant store managers who claimed they had been unlawfully excluded from the tip pool and who sought redress for the tips they should have received during the class period.

U.S. District Judge Laura Swain had originally entered summary judgment for Starbucks in both cases.  On appeal, the Court of Appeals answered all questions, certified by the 2nd Circuit, regarding interpretation of New York’s tip law in Starbucks’ favor.

The Akin Gump team was led by labor and employment partner Dan Nash, and Supreme Court and appellate practice co-head Rex Heinke argued the appeals.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 850 attorneys in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.


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