A California judge has ruled that Starbucks should pay $87 million plus 7 percent interest to compensate baristas in that state for tips...

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A California judge has ruled that Starbucks should pay $87 million plus 7 percent interest to compensate baristas in that state for tips they must share with shift supervisors.

Starbucks’ companywide policy requires baristas to share the money in tip jars with shift supervisors, who mentor and coach them.

The baristas’ attorneys said Thursday that San Diego County Superior Court Judge Patricia Yim Cowett ordered the company Feb. 28 to pay damages to more than 100,000 Starbucks baristas who worked from Oct. 8, 2000, through the end of last month.

She also ordered Starbucks to discontinue the tip-pooling policy.

Starbucks said it plans to “vigorously appeal this ruling.” In a statement, the company said, “This case was filed by a single former barista and, despite Starbucks’ request, the interests of the shift supervisors were not represented in this litigation.”

The plaintiffs said the court ruled shift supervisors are “agents” of the company under California law because they “supervise and direct” baristas’ work and therefore can’t share in the same tip pool.

Starbucks disagreed, saying shift supervisors have no managerial authority. Store managers, who don’t share tips, set workers’ hours and make other personnel decisions.

The suit was filed in October 2004 by a San Diego barista, Jou Chau, who no longer works for Starbucks. The suit gained class-action status in 2006.

“I feel vindicated,” Chau said in a statement.

“Tips really help those receiving the lowest wages. I think Starbucks should pay shift supervisors higher wages instead of taking money from the tip pool.”

Laura Ho, an attorney who represented baristas, said, “The judge’s ruling shows that even a large corporation like Starbucks has to follow the law.”

She estimated total damages would be close to $106 million.

A hearing is set for May 1 for post-judgment proceedings.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com