Customer service could take a hit if tip-pooling proposal goes through

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - The customer experience in bars and restaurants could undergo a drastic change soon.

A federal proposal to pool tips has upset many locals who work in the service industry.

"Through being who you are and talking to a table, that's how you make your income," said Bianca Stephens, a single mom who was a server for 13 years. "That's how you make ends meet."

Stephens and others in the industry say the prospect of a great tip motivates them to provide the best customer experience.

Under the Labor Department proposal, employers would have the opportunity to redistribute the tips of workers making at least minimum wage.

It means back-of-house employees like cooks and dishwashers would get a piece of the pie.

"It's not fair for me to have to share the tips with other people who aren't interacting with the customers, who are tipping you for your personality," said Alex Menichino, a bartender.

Menichino says he'd be less inclined to spend time schmoozing with a customer if the tip wasn't going to end up in his pocket.

Some believe there's more at stake too than just customer satisfaction.

"It will definitely affect their service," Stephens said. "It'll affect their environment. It could potentially affect their stay in Las Vegas which could ultimately in the long run affect travel and tourism rates. Honestly, it's that serious."

The government says in its proposal that the move will reduce wage disparities and incentivize all employees to improve the customer experience, regardless of their position.

There will be a 30-day public comment period before the proposal can go final.

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