SAN JOSE -- The Bay 101 casino can require its cardroom dealers to share tips with the entire operation's employees, rejecting the dealers' bid to take their case to trial, a state appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

In a unanimous decision, the 6th District Court of Appeal found state law permits casinos such as Bay 101 to enforce such tip-pooling arrangements, a common practice in the restaurant industry, where waiters, waitresses and bartenders typically share their customer bounty.

"Given the absence of legislative intent to prohibit employer-mandated tip pooling, we cannot conclude the policy at Bay 101 is illegal as a matter of law," Justice Franklin Elia wrote for the three-member panel.

The dealers filed a class-action lawsuit in 2006, arguing that Bay 101 was illegally seizing their tips by forcing them to share with hundreds of other employees, from the casino's deli to its hair salon. Bay 101 required dealers to offer a set amount, such as $2.50 per hour, for nondealer employees from their tips, which court papers show ranged from $750 to $1,500 per week.

But a Santa Clara County judge in 2011 dismissed the lawsuit in the middle of the trial, concluding the casino had a legal right to enforce the tip arrangement. The appeals court agreed.

The dealers can appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court.

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz



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