You belong to me: Who gets to keep food and beverage hall service charges?

In the food and beverage business, employees own the tips customers voluntarily leave for them. Employers and managers can't take or keep any of the tips. But who owns the mandatory service charges restaurants and other businesses add to bills for large parties or for catering and special events? Both federal and state law make clear that the tax and wage treatment of service charges paid to employees is different from the treatment of tips, but what happens if the employer merely keeps the service charge? Does it matter whom the customer thinks the service charge is going to? Those questions were recently addressed in a case before the court of appeal.

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