Cannabis multi-state operator Curaleaf Holdings Inc. (OTC: CURLF) is pushing back against an employee lawsuit that sued the company for the contents of a tip jar. Former employee Morgan Heller filed a complaint in March accusing the company of not giving the employees $126,000 that had been collected in tip jars. Heller says the managers took the money instead.
Curaleaf wants the Illinois federal court to dismiss those claims saying it never agreed to pay those tips to workers in the first place. Curaleaf’s position is that tips were not part of the employment agreement and had told the employees as such. Heller even states in her complaint that Curaleaf had instructed employees not to take the tips, but the employees chose to ignore the directive and continued to put out a tip jar by the cash register. Heller said that the employees believed the tips would be collected at the end of the day and distributed evenly among all the hourly employees. However, Heller says the money was instead kept by the managers. Indeed, the confusion over how the tips that were collected should be disbursed seemed to be at the discretion of the managers. Some managers used the money to buy lunch for the staff or give out lunch money.
“The alleged facts indicate there was no meeting of the minds as to whether tips were a part of the agreed upon compensation or how tips were dispersed to employees,” Curaleaf said. the company went on to say, “Heller’s allegations acknowledge that Curaleaf’s corporate policy was to not accept tips and that subsequent deviations from this stance were done on an ad hoc basis in response to policy violations and not, as the IWPCA would require, according to an agreement.” Curaleaf has over 300 reviews on Glass Door with an average rating of three stars out of five. Less than half say they would recommend the company to a friend.
Tipping At Dispensaries
Tipping is fairly commonplace at dispensaries. Sometimes the tip jar is placed for a specific budtender, and other times it is intended for the whole staff. Restaurants often engage in similar tipping structures, where some waitstaff collect their own tips and others pool them to include kitchen help as well as front-of-the-house workers. Many cannabis consumers are aware that budtenders are often only paid a small percentage over minimum wage. The Pot Guide wrote, “For a basic transaction, a dollar is a good standard. For anything more complex $2-5, depending on the extent of the service and size of the purchase, and if you’re really making them run around for a large order, consider throwing a $5-10 in the tip jar.”
However, in some states with extraordinarily high taxation, a consumer may feel they have already paid a high price for the product and that the company should adequately pay their employees.
A Curaleaf spokesperson said, “It’s unfortunate that this disagreement has become a legal matter, but facts are facts. No managers (or anyone) at Curaleaf ever stole tips and Curaleaf strongly denies the allegations in the complaint. As with any lawsuit, allegations are made and fact-finding occurs throughout the course of the litigation. We stand by our decision to request this baseless lawsuit be dismissed.”