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Judge Rules Against Surly’s Tip Pooling

The practice of forcing employees to share tips is illegal in Minnesota

An exterior late summer shot of Surly’s monolith brewery. The bottom floor is filled with people inside. One couple is outside, near a fire pit by its giant outdoor green space. Surly Brewing

It has not been a good couple of months for Surly. On top of deciding to close the Brewer’s Table and the subsequent departure of chef Jorge Guzman and losing its head brewer, the brewing powerhouse appears to be in a bit of legal trouble, according to KARE 11.

Surly is being accused of violating the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act, which states that employers cannot force employees to pool their tips and share them with other employees, like bar backs, who would normally not get tipped. According to the attorney representing former Surly bartender James Conlon, Surly is manipulating the system by "making employees subsidize wages of non-direct service employees." A Hennepin County District Court judge agreed, ruling in favor of Conlon and a class of about 100 other former employees last week.

Surly’s response touched on its commitment to put the whole thing to bed as soon as possible. "Surly generally does not comment on pending legal matters. Nevertheless, Surly believes that it has fully complied with all state and federal laws regarding the administrative distribution of tips received by employees under Minnesota’s tip-pooling statute. We note that there is no claim that Surly withheld any tips from its employees, and in fact, it has not. Surly is working with its legal counsel to resolve this matter quickly and in a manner that is fair to Surly’s employees."

Surly Brewing Co

4811 Dusharme Dr, Minneapolis, MN 55429 (763) 535-3330 Visit Website

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