The dispensary tip jar continues to grab the headlines with the latest news of a settlement between Massachusetts cannabis company Bud’s Goods and Provisions and the state’s Fair Labor Division of the Attorney general’s office. The popular cannabis dispensary agreed to repay numerous current and former employees as part of a $33,000 settlement with the Massachusetts Attorney General following a complaint from an employee that the company kept tips from its budtenders. 68 employees who worked between March 1, 2021, and the end of 2021 will receive between $20 and $1,500.
“Our employer is taking our tips,” wrote Victoria-Lynne Rushton in a complaint submitted to the Attorney General last year. “They have us put the tips into a lock box, we do not see the money and we’re not told what was made each shift.”
The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division cited Bud’s Goods & Provisions and its CEO Alex Mazin, individually, for violating the state’s law against improper tip deductions on May 3. “Every employee in Massachusetts is entitled to workplace benefits and protections, which is why our office’s Fair Labor Division works actively to protect earned wages, hold employers accountable to our laws, and inform and educate businesses about their obligations,” said a spokesperson for the Attorney General. “We are committed to ensuring a level playing field for honest employers and a fair environment for workers.”
The employees complained that the money wasn’t fairly distributed. The evening workers felt that they earned the highest tips but had to share those tips with co-workers that didn’t interact with the public. The money was typically used to buy food for the employees. This created another issue because they accused the company of buying food during the day and by the time the evening employees arrived, the food had been sitting out all day. This especially irked the evening crew who believed they earned the higher tips.
To Tip Or Not To Tip
This settlement comes at the same time as Curaleaf (OTC: CURLF) recently pushed 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.
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.”
Mass Fights For Cannabis Workers
Massachusetts has proven itself to be on the side of the cannabis workers. Last year, the AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation in December 2020 following a complaint from a worker about premium pay. Fair Labor’s investigation determined that 282 employees were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in premium pay for work performed on Sundays and covered holidays. Under the terms of the settlement with the AG’s Office, Theory Wellness has agreed to pay in full (roughly $300,000) the premium wages owed to impacted employees. The company cooperated with the investigation and has since come into compliance with the premium and holiday pay laws.