Nevada Congresswoman proposes law to protect restaurant server tips

U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada, balances plates while discussing proposed legislation to protect tips for restaurant servers. (Heather Mills | KSNV)

A tip is part and parcel to any server or bartender.

But a rule from the Department of Labor could mean those tips would be divvied up between everyone working, including the cooks and even janitors.

The rule would transfer control of tips from the worker to the owner. The idea is pay equity, but the concern is that they money may never get back to those who earned it.

It’s just before the lunch at Mingo Kitchen & Lounge in the Arts District.

Owner Mingo Collaso is getting ready for the day and said he already has enough to do, and that pooling tip money from his servers and bartenders would add to his stress.

"I don’t want to be responsible for having to, you know, divide up the tips," he said.

Right now, tips go to those who earn them. Servers make minimum wage, but Collaso said everyone gets a fair check.

"We actually pay the kitchen more than the servers, so it kind of balances out with their tips and their pay," he said.

A rule proposed by the Trump Administration would require tips to be pooled and kitchen staff to be tipped out.

"If that went into effect, we would probably change the rate of the kitchen pay," he said.

U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada, is co-sponsoring legislation to protect tips. She met with students at Westside Bistro at the Culinary Academy on Friday.

"A server is part of the experience at a restaurant," Rosen said.

Rosen showed off her skills as a server when she was in college, balancing multiple plates.

"I used to put my tip money in envelopes to pay my bills,” Rosen said, explaining that this new proposed rule could hurt minimum wage employees. "The big concern is they’re going to take, pay a certain wage, and then all the tips will go to the business owner. It may never go to the back of the house."

That’s why Mingo Collaso said on a busy night his servers tip out the back of the house. Collaso said he believes his employees are the face of his restaurant and tasked with customer service.

"If they work harder, they get rewarded more with more money. It’s their incentive."

The Department of Labor tip rule is still being debated. The public comment section is closed but received over 300,000 comments.

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