Source: @alexservestea on TikTok.
Imagine working, only to owe money to your coworkers.

TikToker @alexservestea is exposing how tip pooling at restaurants like Chili is leaving some servers’ paychecks in the negatives after a shift.

In a now-viral video, the user explains how Chili’s and other restaurant franchises allegedly use exploitative practices on their employees. In this case, the user shows messages from people who claim they work for Chili’s and were forced to pay other staff members through their tips.

These “nontraditional” tipping pools were made legal at the tail end of the Trump era. Updated tipping rules did away with the 80-20 rule, allowing employers to pay all employees (including cooks and janitors) tipping minimum wage. It also allows them to distribute tips earned by servers to all staff.

@alexservestea

Reply to @missthatchix Our system is so fkd up! #greenscreen

♬ original sound – Personal acct by Alexserves

Under these rules, one Chili employee ended up with 91 cents out of $61.01 earned credit card tips. Reportedly, the distributed tips are based on total sales and not earned tips. As such, some servers can go in the negative–as was the case with one server who owed $3.05 to other employees after a shift.

A conversation between the server in the negatives and another employee reveals that this $3.05 will come out of the server’s next paycheck.

@alexservestea

Watch my other videos for more explanations about everything #greenscreen

♬ original sound – Personal acct by Alexserves

The sad part is that Chili’s isn’t the only restaurant to implement tip pooling or to pay back-of-house workers tipped minimum wage. Thankfully, these places are coming under increased scrutiny as the U.S. begins to open up again. Many people are choosing not to return to the service industry; some restaurants are hurting for employees as a result.

The Tipping Debate

Another TikTok video posted by @donteeprevost shows the result of a frustrated food delivery worker: “Don’t order delivery if you can’t even afford to tip! :)” written on a Voodoo Doughnut box. @donteeprevost claims they didn’t tip because the package was delivered to the wrong house.

The TikTok has just over 238,000 views and comments are divided. Some agree with the sentiment that workers should earn their tips. Others say that accidents happen or that tips are necessary for service industry workers to live. A lot of viewers are shaming @donteeprevost for not tipping–some are even calling her a “karen”.

These comments spark an interesting yet complex question: Is it immoral to not tip (in America)? Some say yes, as tipped employees are paid a minimum wage of $2.13 and earn even less after gas costs. Others say no, as this is the industry employees signed up for.

This certainly isn’t the first time tipping has been debated, and it certainly won’t be the last.