By LAUREN CAHN

Food - News

How A Lawsuit
Over Salt Bae's
Miami
Restaurant
Sparked A
Tipping Debate

A steak at celebrity chef Salt Bae’s Miami steakhouse comes with a hefty price tag of $120 and 18% service charge, with none of that service charge going to the servers. Offended by this action, 24 servers from Nusr-et Miami sued the restaurant for withholding tips and, shockingly, lost.

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On March 18, 2022, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Salt Bae's Miami steakhouse is legally entitled to keep every penny of the 18% service charge. Despite its term, "service charge" is not a "tip" for the server, but money for the restaurant to meet payroll obligations and reinvest in itself.

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The Court’s decision is based on the fact that under U.S. law, a "tip" is that which a customer may pay at their discretion, and since the "service charge" is not discretionary, it is not a tip. This ruling applies to all restaurants in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama that choose to charge a service fee.

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