Excelsior, Detroit Lakes restaurants pay back employees after illegal tip pooling

Investigations into two Minnesota restaurants showed they owed tens of thousands of dollars to employees who contributed to illegal tip pools.

According to a release from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Yumi Restaurant in Excelsior paid a total of $55,120 to its employees and Spitfire Bar & Grill in Detroit Lakes paid $14,695 after state investigations showed the restaurants were pooling tips illegally.

Minnesota law prohibits employers from requiring employees to share tips with their employers or with employees who do not directly receive tips, like bussers, dishwashers, cooks and hosts. Tip sharing is allowed, however, when employees choose to do so independent of their employer.

According to investigators, Yumi required workers to contribute to their tip pool in 2018 and 2019. The restaurant agreed to pay back 10 workers in amounts that range from $281 to $16,000.

In the same years, Spitfire Bar & Grill also required workers to contribute tips to a fund that was distributed to other employees. The restaurant also agreed to pay back 52 employees who received an average of $282 in back pay.