How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask LawTalk Your Own Question
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37639
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
Type Your California Employment Law Question Here...
LawTalk is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

We currently run a Valet Parking Company in the State of California.

This answer was rated:

We currently run a Valet Parking Company in the State of California. We have a prospective client that is asking us to provide a "complimentary" valet service for a high volume restaurant. Our concern is that we will not be able to share in the revenue received from the valet customers due to Ca. Labor Code Section 351. The prospective client indicates that the money received while providing a "complimentary" service is not considered tip/gratuity revenue, due to the fact that 351 defines a tip as money received above the amount charged for services rendered, and that we would be able to use said revenue toward operational costs, etc. Thoughts??
Good morning,

I'm Doug, and I'm sorry to hear of the confusion.

I presume that you are asking on behalf of the Valet company owners and managers, and your presumption/concern as regards XXXXX XXXXX Code § 351 is well founded. You may neither collect nor share in the tips generated by your employees, and you would have to pay them minimum wage as well for their time.

The restaurant personal telling you that it is not a tip or gratuity because the service is complimentary is either grossly uninformed or trying to get something for nothing at your expense. You may not share in the gratuities paid your employees under any circumstances. Further, CA Labor Code § 351 does not define gratuity as something paid above and beyond some other charge.

I think that you need to renegotiate the deal with the restaurant---because as it stands, you, as a company, will be losing money hand over fist by agreeing to do what is being asked of you. The only ones to profit will be the restaurant and your employees who are paid wages.

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me.

Please remember to press the smiley faces/stars on the right of your screen when we are finished with our communication so I will be credited for my time in assisting you. Kindly remember to ONLY rate my answer when you are fully satisfied. If you feel the need to rate anything less than OK, please stop and contact me with whatever issue or clarification you may need. I will be happy to continue further and assist you until I am able to address your concerns to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in 2012,


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for the response...


In section 350 of the Ca. Labor Code, "gratuity" is defined as being any tip, gratuity, money, or part thereof that has been paid or given to or left for an employee by the patron of the business over and above the actual amount due the business for services rendered...


In the case of a "complementary" valet service, there is no charge and therefore the revenue collected does not fit the definition of "gratuity" as defined in section 350-356, correct??

Good morning,

Yes, but as the service is free to begin with, that is the payment---or lack thereof----that will be considered. I assure you, what is given to the employees parking the vehicles is a legal gratuity under CA law.

The restaurant is attempting to play a game of semantics---yet the Department of Labor and the CA courts look to the general meanings of the words.

Under the restaurant's argument, if a customer came in, sat down, had water and decided to leave without ordering---but left a tip for the server who spent 15 minutes assisting them---that it would not be a gratuity and the restaurant could take the money. Not the case.

I wish you the best in 2012.

I understand that you may be disappointed by the Answer you received, as it was not particularly favorable to your situation. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a successful legal outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so.

Kindly take a moment to rate my service to you based on the understanding of the law I provided
. Please understand that I have no control over the how the law impacts your particular situation, and I trust that you can understand how it would be unfair for me to be punished by a (negative rating) ----the first 2 stars/faces----for having been honest with you about the law.

Thank you,


LawTalk and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you