Starbucks Tip Jar Battle Goes to NY's Top Court

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A recent Starbucks battle over tips has gone all the way to New York's State Court of Appeals.

The dispute involves two cases and includes a group of angered baristas who are upset over "shift supervisors" taking tips.

Shift supervisors are higher in ranking than baristas but are usually paid the same. 

Starbucks said assistant managers, who are different from shift supervisors, do not get tips because they are rewarded with "performance-based bonuses and other benefits not available to their subordinates."

But because the shift supervisors do most of the same work as baristas, they are arguing against the baristas' case claiming they should receive the tips. Their lawyers argue that they do "98 percent" the same customer service.

"The baristas work more on the floor," a barista who works in Manhattan said. "Yes, managers do interact with customers but it's more the baristas who connect with the customers so they deserve the tips more."

"We all should get them, we should equally share them."

The center of the case is over the word "agent," which by New York definition is a person who works for a company who is not allowed to have tips. 

"Starbucks has not seriously disputed that its shift supervisors are supervisors," attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan said. 

A federal judge said shift supervisors obviously lack the managerial authority to be classified as company agents. 

The case is aiming to define "agent" more clearly, including determining what factors make one an agent at a company and whether or not state law permits an employer to exclude an eligible tip-earning employee from sharing in a tip pool.

Sources: CBS News, MSN