Arkansas is No Tipper; Restaurant Gratuities Deemed Unconstitutional

SEPTEMBER 21, 2005 - Posted at 8:09 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state of Arkansas spends about $2.7 million a year for employees to eat out on state business, but it won't tip the wait staff a dime.

State employees can't be reimbursed for any tips, and at 15 percent, that saves Arkansas about $410,000 a year.

According to a 1999 opinion from then attorney general and current U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, it is unconstitutional for a state employee to tip wait staff because it would use public money for "the private benefit of individuals."

Most other states reimburse for all tips or provide per diem payments to cover them.  Only Texas joins Arkansas in excluding gratuities from reimbursement.  Union officials say the constitution discriminates against workers, like restaurant waiters and waitresses, who do not receive minimum wage for their base pay and rely mainly on tips.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)