The jump in Ontario’s minimum wage is sparking a debate over tip pooling in Port Stanley.
A former employee at The Buccaneer Restaurant posted a Facebook video on Saturday that’s since gone viral, after the restaurant’s manager requested that staff sign off on increasing his take of tips from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent.
Staff jointly signed a letter denouncing the change but in the video, Cayley Pozza said that she was being penalized because she was the one to hand in the letter. She has since quit.
“If I can leave with anything I’m going to leave with my pride,” she said in the video.
“I worked my butt off for three years, I’ve come off maternity leave to help him out, I’ve worked double shifts. All of us, we work our butts off and we pay to work there.”
Pozza added that menu prices had already been increased to offset the impact of an increase to the province’s minimum wage, though servers make less than minimum wage.
“I just feel like that’s double dipping. You’re already increasing your menu costs to makeup for market inflation in the minimum wage and then your main strategy to be successful is to bleed your own staff and take their hard earned tips from that?”
Following the backlash, Chris Georgeopolous reversed the decision, keeping the tip distribution at the status quo.
However, the backlash also has them considering legal action.
“She wants to express her displeasure — I agree with it, I disagree with it, I’m hurt — that’s fine, that’s your own opinion,” Georgeopolous’s lawyer, Gene Chiarello with Cohen Highley told 980 CFPL.
“But you can’t allege somebody’s doing something criminal if they’re not. So the Georgeopolous family, the owners of the Buccaneers as well, are considering their options in that regard.”
Chiarello also stressed that if an owner of a restaurant performs a function in the restaurant, for example serving or hosting, then they are entitled to participate in the tipping pool if they choose to. In this case, Georgeopolous is not the owner, but a manager.
“You may agree, you may disagree with the ethics or the morals of participating in a tip-out policy or having one at all. But it certainly doesn’t run afoul of any employment legislation.”
Chiarello adds that the family will likely request that the video, which had over 450,000 views as of Tuesday, be taken down.