Hawaii hotel workers could be in line for millions in tips

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Thousands of former and current Hawaii hotel workers could be in line for big bucks.

The Hawaii State Supreme Court ruled Monday that a class action lawsuit against certain hotels “can” move forward.

This is not the final word on a class action lawsuit that began in 2000 and stalled in court in 2009. The holdup began when one hotel chain argued that the law impacting tips to wait staff came under a different jurisdiction.

The case was referred to the State Supreme Court which ruled Monday that the class action suit could move forward and that could eventually mean thousands of employees are due millions of dollars in lost tips.

Local 5 Union Financial Secretary-Treasurer Eric Gill said that since the original suit was filed, many island hotels have worked out agreements with the union about how tips are distributed.

“This is very important Hawaii’s working people. Many of us work for tips and rely on them. And of course, if management takes a share and doesn’t say so, then the guest thinks they’ve given a tip and the worker doesn’t get it,” Local 5 Union Financial Secretary-Treasurer Eric Gill said.

But a number of chains continue to battle the suit. Some hotels pool the tip money and keep some of it for administrative costs.

In the end, thousands of hotel workers – past and present – could be affected by the ongoing suit.

“The customers when they give a good tip, want to reward good service, that’s what it’s for. They assume they’ve already paid management by paying the check price and so on,” Gill said.

Hotel representatives did not return our calls.

Villon v. Marriott Hotel Services, Inc. 


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