There used to be many states, like Tennessee and Mississippi, that had anti-tipping laws. These laws made it illegal for restaurants, hotels and railways to allow their employees to accept tips and provided for fines for offending companies.

These laws seemed to have failed. Were they repealed, or just not enforced? What happened to the anti-tipping laws?

  • The answer seems to be contained in Segrave, K. (1998). Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities. – user6726 Sep 17 at 0:55
  • npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/30/457125740/… claims that these laws were all repealed by 1926. Tennessee and Mississippi don't seem to have legislative records online going back that far, so confirming this would probably require some serious library research. – Nate Eldredge Sep 17 at 5:55

Basically, it boiled down to two things:

  • In one case, a particularly strict anti-tipping law was found to be discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional. (Such a law might be called "classist" today.)

  • The laws didn't change people's behavior anyway.

With a hat tip to @user6726, the following is drawn from Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities, by Kerry Segrave. From pp. 37–38:

Iowa's law was particularly onerous in that sanctions were applied only to tip takers who were employees, while a business owner was free to accept gratuities. ... In Iowa, a barber by the name of Dunahoo was arrested, charges, and convicted after a customer gave him a 25 cent tip after a haircut. The shop contained two chairs, one staffed by Dunahoo, the other by shop owner Murphy. Had the customer chosen Murphy and tipped him it would have been legal since Murphy was a proprietor, not an employee. Dunahoo's arrangement with Murphy was that he was to receive a salary of $15 a week plus 60 percent of his billings above that amount, plus tips. When the case went to the Iowa Supreme Court, it turned on the discriminatory nature of the bill, which, contrary to the United States and Iowa constitutions, denied equal protection under its laws to all citizen — separate classes were established. Dunahoo's conviction was reversed by a 4–2 margin. The majority decision said, in part, "Tipping may be an evil, but this does not justify discrimination between classes in order to put it down. In so far as the public is concerned, the evil of tipping the employer is quite as obnoxious to good morals as though it were done to the employee."

By the end of the 1910s, the fever to pass antitipping laws had waned considerably. Washington's law was repealed in 1913, largely because it was ignored by all sides. ... The remaining state acts were repealed as follows: South Carolina in 1922, Tennessee and Arkansas in 1925, and Mississippi in 1926. Although antitipping sentiment was still strong in the 1920s, those acts were repealed partly due to the fall of the Iowa measure, and partly due to the persistence of the custom, which led many to believe it was futile to try to abolish the practice.

  • It seems something got lost in the translation... Wait staff are often paid less than minimum wage because they receive tips. And I believe the IRS will tax on what they believe you earn, including tips they think you should receive. Some folks are still singled out and still can't get the equal protections... – jww Sep 19 at 4:10

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.