Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta returned today to the question of tipping and why the Labor Department’s proposed tip-pooling rule doesn’t bar employers from pocketing tips, saying that adding such language would exceed the authority of his department.
Speaking at a conference for Latino business leaders, Acosta addressed accusations leveled by Democratic representatives at a Tuesday appropriations hearing that the tip-pooling rule would transfer tips from employees to employers — a conclusion reportedly reached by two consecutive DOL analyses that Acosta suppressed.
Acosta told Congress Tuesday that the results of the study were inconclusive. An analysis from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute found employers would pocket $5.8 billion.
“Let me be very clear,” Acosta said today at the Latino business conference. The appropriation by businesses of workers’ tips “is wrong [and] this administration does not favor establishments stealing tips.”
Democrats and worker advocates say the proposal, which would allow employers to redistribute tips to back-of-house employees, would give employers the green light to pocket tips because it doesn’t expressly outlaw it. Acosta didn’t dispute that assessment, but said it’s up to Congress to make the change, not the executive branch. “It is not our place in the executive branch to legislate what the law does not say,” Acosta said.
Acosta told members of Congress on Tuesday that he would support legislative language that barred employers from pocketing tips.