Smartbrief reports that on September 30, 2009, Judge Patrick Schiltz of the Federal Court for the District of Minnesota declared that Starbucks Coffee Company’s tip distribution policy violates Minnesota law. Faced with a request for clarification from Starbucks, Judge Schiltz affirmed the breadth of his holding, writing, “Starbucks’ policy violates Minnesota law by requiring employees who work on a particular shift to share tips received on that shift with employees who do not work on that shift.”

In spite of Judge Schiltz’s unequivocal declaration of the policy’s illegality, Starbucks has yet to change its policy. E. Michelle Drake, attorney for the Plaintiffs, noted the high-risk nature of the strategy Starbucks has decided to pursue. “Minnesota law provides for a $1,000 civil penalty per violation. By not changing its policy, Starbucks may have already subjected itself up to civil penalties in excess of a million dollars — just in the past few weeks alone.”

While Judge Schiltz denied the present Plaintiffs’ bid for class certification, individuals may still bring their own cases, either by filing individually or by filing in groups. Such individuals would be eligible to recover damages, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Read more at: Smartbrief