Involuntary/mandatory tip pooling is illegal in Kentucky. Kentucky Revised Statute 337.065 makes it unlawful for an employer in Kentucky to require remittance of a gratuity. A “gratuity” is defined as any voluntary monetary contribution received by an employee from a guest, patron or customer for services rendered by that employee.

The statute specifically prohibits an employer from requiring employees to participate in a tip pool whereby the employees are required to pool together their gratuities or tips, or any portion thereof, to be distributed among fellow employees – even if those employees consist only of the servers who contributed to the tip pool.

Bartenders and servers may voluntarily enter into an agreement to divide tips and gratuities among themselves. An employer may also inform the employees that a voluntary tip pool arrangement exists in the bar or restaurant and the customary tipping arrangements of the bartenders and servers at the restaurant or bar. However, if an employer requires bartenders and/or servers to pool their tips and divide them according to some formula, it is illegal and the employer can be sued for requiring mandatory tip pooling.

If employees are able to prove that an employer required tip pooling at a bar or restaurant, then under Kentucky law, that employer must pay to the employees who pooled their tips the difference between the amount the bartender or server would have earned in tips if they had not been required to pool them, less any amounts they received from the mandatory tip pool. In addition, if the employees can prove to the satisfaction of the court that the employer knew that requiring a mandatory tip pool was in violation of Kentucky law, then the court may award the employees double the amount of their tip losses. Finally, if an employee is able to prove that their employer required them to pool tips, then the employer is also required to pay the legal costs and attorney’s fees the employee(s) incurred in bringing a claim against the employer.

The Shelton Law Group has successfully brought individual and class action claims against employers who have violated Kentucky’s tip pooling laws. If you believe that your current or former employer has violated Kentucky’s wage and hour laws, including the prohibition against mandatory tip pooling, then you should contact the Shelton Law Group at (502) 409-6460 or (888) 761-7204, or visit us at