The past year saw a rash of lawsuits against famous restaurateurs for pooling their employees' tips illegally. Now, New York has a new law governing how tips are shared. But will it just screw restaurant employees even more?

The short answer: it depends! The law that went into effect Saturday will give restaurants a lot of latitude in determining exactly how much each individual employee gets screwed:

The new rules allow restaurants to dictate both the system and the percentage allocated to each job category. Gratuities can be combined in a pool, to be divided by all the staff members who have helped a team effort. Or, individual servers can collect their own tips and give portions, or shares, to members of the team.

So, by our reading, if you have a cool and fair boss, it could work out, or, if not, you could be totally screwed as a matter of restaurant policy—and be unable to sue over it. Although you could sue if the restaurant was not following its own stated policy. But if it's just a matter of "OMG the fucking slacker stoners in the kitchen are getting tipped out and I know for a fact all they did was talk shit and smoke weed out back half the night while I was busting my ass for those tips," well, IT'S POLICY, sorry.

[NYT. Photo: stu_spivack]