Canyon Ranch Settles Tips Lawsuit
Often at spas and resorts, instead of having customers deal with tips a gratuity is built in. Easy for the customer and a little assurance for the practitioner, right? Well not in the case of Canyon Ranch, the luxury getaway in the Berkshires. As the Boston Globe reports, the resort has agreed to pay a whopping $14.75 million to around 600 massage therapists, hair stylists, waiters and other employees that worked at Canyon Ranch between April 2004 and October 2007 after a lawsuit accused Canyon Ranch of breaking a state law that prohibits management from taking tips reserved for service workers. Canyon Ranch has denied any wrongdoing in the settlement filed in Massachusetts this week, stating that service charge was "was never intended to be a significant part of the employees' compensation plan."
The suit said that not only did workers feel like they might lose their jobs if they asked to receive the tips but that guests were discouraged from giving extra gratuities. If a client still wanted to tip extra the worker couldn't accept the money directly but had to send the client to another area of the spa to complete the transaction. This isn't the first suit of this kind but it is one of the biggest payouts around.
Canyon Ranch has eliminated the 18 percent service charge instead charging a "resort amenities fee" that does not include tips. The spa still discourages tipping. Certainly resorts have the right to set up no tipping rules but in cases where the gratuity is added in it is natural to assume that the worker has received the tip just as they would have if you pressed the cash into their hands. Personally, while I can sometimes find the process of tipping to be awkward I would much rather have the control. I also tend to enjoy tipping, it allows me to visibly demonstrate my thanks for great service.