The custom of tipping started in Europe, and many past Americans have denounced it as undemocratic, as if the tipper were an aristocrat distributing largesse to the common people. (This has largely been replaced by the argument that if employers paid decent wages, tips would not be necessary for service occupations to provide enough money to live on.) Many legislators proposed to outlaw tippping; several states actually passed laws against it. None of them lasted more than a few years, and it seems unlikely that any of them were much enforced. (It's interesting that exactly what businesses cannot allow tipping is specified in most of these, and that several of them are closely copied from one another or have a single source.)

Washington, enacted 1909, repealed 1913

  • Sec. 439. Every employee of a public house or public service corporation who shall solicit or receive any gratuity from any guest shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
  • Sec. 440. Every person giving any such gratuity mentioned in section 439 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
(Washington State. Session Laws, 1909, Chapter 249, p. 1029.)


Mississippi, enacted 1912, repealed 1926

  • 3235. To prohibit practice of allowing tips in public eating places -- 1. It shall be unlawful in this state for any hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car railroad company or sleeping car company to knowingly allow any person in its employ to receive any gratuity, commonly known as a "tip," from any patron or passenger; and it shall be unlawful for any patron of any hotel, restaurant, cafe, or dining car or any passenger of any railroad train or sleeping car to give to any employee such gratuity; and it shall be unlawful for any employee of any hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company to receive any gratuity or "tip."
  • 3236. The term "tip" defined. -- 2. By gratuity or "tip," as used in this act is meant any extra compensation of any kind which any hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company, or the manager, officer, or any agent thereof in charge of same, allows to be given an employee, or which any peron gives to any employee, or which is received by any employee, and is not a part of the regular charge of the hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company, which is not a part of its regular charge for the thing bought or services rendered, or a part of the service which by contract it is under duty to render. No hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company shall evade this act by adding to the regular charge, directly or indirectly, anything intended for, or to be used, or to be given away as a gratuity or tip to the employee. All charges made by the hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company must be made by it and be in good faith a charge for the service which it renders exclusive of the service which it furnishes through its employees.
  • 3237. Copy of act to be conspicuously posted -- 3. Each hotel shall post a copy of this act in the office and in each room, and each restaurant and cafe shall post at least two copies of this act in two conspicuous places in same, and each dining car railroad or sleeping car company doing business within this state, shall post two copies of this act in conspicuous places in each passenger coach or sleeping car.
  • 3238. Penalty for violating provisions of this act. -- 4. Any hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company, and the manager, officer, or agent of same in charge, violating this act or willfully or negligently allowing the same to be violated in any way, shall each be subject to a penalty not to exceed one hundred dollars for each tip allowed to be given. If any person shall give any such employee any gratuity or tip, such person shall be subject to a fine of not more than fifty dollars for each offense. If any of the above employees shall receive any gratuity or tip, he shall be subject to a fine of not more than fifty dollars. If the hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company, fail, neglect, or refuse to post this act as required herein, such hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company shall be subject to a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars for every day it shall so fail.
  • 3239. Grand juries to be specially instructed -- 5. It shall be the duty of the circuit judges to specially call the attention of the grand jury to the provisions of this act at each term of the court.
(Hemingway, William. The Annotated Mississippi Code (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1917.) pp. 1563-1564.)


Arkansas, enacted 1913, repealed 1925. "Tips, unlawful to receive, etc."

  • Section 2224. It shall be unlawful for any steward, waiter, porter or other employee at any hotel, restaurant, cafe, or eating house in the state of Arkansas to solicit or receive either directly or indirectly; or for any proprietor or manager of any such hotel, restaurant, cafe or eating house, to permit any such steward, waiter, porter, or other employee to receive either directly or indirectly from any guest or patron any gift, compensation or honorarium, or gratuity commonly known as a "tip."
  • Section 2225. It shall be unlawful for any porter or other employee of any sleeping car company or dining car company or corporation or carrier operating any sleeping car or dining car in this State, to receive either directly or indirectly, any gratuity or compensation commonly known as a "tip," and any sleeping or dining car company or any common carrier operating a sleeping or dining care in this state that permits an employee to accept or receive any gratuity or compensation commonly known as a "tip," shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
  • Section 2226. Any person, firm, or corporation of common carrier violating any of the provisions of this Act shall be punished by a fine of not less than ten dollars, nor more than twenty-five dollars.
(Kirby, William F., A Digest of the Statutes of Arkansas, (Little Rock: n.p., 1916), p. 683)


Tennessee, enacted 1915, repealed 1925. "Unlawful to give or receive certain tips."

  • 6888a1. Unlawful to permit, give, or receive certain tips -- It shall be unlawful in this state for any hotel, restaurant, cafe, barber shop , dining car railroad company or sleeping car company to willfully allow any person in its employ to receive any gratuity, commonly known as a "tip," from any patron or passenger, and it shall be unlawful for any patron of any hotel, restaurant, cafe, barber shop, or dining car or any passenger of any railroad train or sleeping car to give to any employee such gratuity; and it shall be unlawful for any employee of any hotel, restaurant, cafe, barber shop, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company to receive any gratuity or "tip."
  • 6888a2. Tip or gratuity is defined. -- By gratuity or "tip," as used in this article is meant any extra compensation of any kind which any hotel, restaurant, cafe, barber shop, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company, or the manager, officer, or any agent thereof, in charge of same, allows to be given an employee, or which any person gives to any employee, or which is received by any employee, and is not a part of the regular charge of the hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company, which is not a part of the regular charge of the hotel, restaurant, cafe, barber shop, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company for the thing bought or services rendered, or a part of the service which by contract it is under duty to render.
  • 6888a3. No evasion allowed. -- No hotel, restaurant, cafe, barber shop, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company shall evade this law by adding to the regular charge, directly or indirectly, anything intended for, or to be used, or to be given away as a gratuity or tip to the employee. All charges made by the hotel, restaurant, cafe, barber shop, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company must be made by it in good faith a charge for the service which it renders, exclusive of the service which it furnishes through its employees.
  • 6888a4. Notice of this law to be conspicuously posted, and synopsis printing on menu cards -- Each hotel shall post notice of this law in the office and in each room, and each restaurant, cafe and barber shop shall post at least two notices of this law in two conspicuous places in same, and each dining car railroad or sleeping car company, doing business within this state, shall post two notices of this law in conspicuous places in each sleeping car, and each cafe, hotel, or dining car operator shall have printed, in a conspicuous place on their menu cards or bills of fare, the synopsis of the provisions of this law.
  • 6888a5. Fines for violation of this law. -- Any hotel, restaurant, cafe, barber shop, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company, and the manager, officer, or agent of same in charge, violating this law or willfully allowing the same to be violated in any way, shall each be subject to a penalty of not less than $10 nor more than $50 for each tip allowed to be given. If any person shall give any such employee any gratuity or tip, such person shall be subject to a fine of not more than $25 nor less than $5 for each offense. If any of the above employees shall receive any gratuity or tip, he shall be subject to a fine of not more than $25 nor less than $5 for each offense. If the hotel, restaurant, cafe, barber shop, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company, fail, neglect, or refuse to post notice of this law, as required herein, such hotel, restaurant, cafe, barber shop, dining car railroad company, or sleeping car company shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $100 for every day it shall fail.
  • 6888a6. Special charge -- It shall be the duty of the circuit judges and the courts of like jurisdiction to especially call the attention of the grand jury to the provisions of this article at each term of the court.
(Shannon, Robert T. A Compilation of the Tennessee Statutes (Nashville: Tennessee Law Book, 1918.) pp. 6221-6222.)


South Carolina, enacted 1915, repealed 1922.

    An act to prohibit hotels, restaurants, cafes, dining car companies, sleeping car companies, and barber shops from allowing tips to be given to employees, and to prohibit employees in hotels, restaurants, cafes, dining cars, railroad companies, sleeping car companies, and barber shops from receiving them.
  • Section 1. Unlawful to allow, give, or receive tips. -- Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, It shall be unlawful in this State for any hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car company, railroad company, sleeping car company, or barber shop to knowingly allow any person in its employ to receive any gratuity, commonly known as a "tip," from any patron or passenger, and it shall be unlawful for any patron of any hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car or for any passenger on any railroad train or sleeping car to give to any employee any such gratuity and it shall be unlawful for any employee of any hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car company, railroad company, sleeping car company, or barber shop to receive any such gratuity.
  • Section 2. Meaning of gratuity or tip -- No evasion of act -- By "gratuity," or "tip," as used in this Act, is meant any extra compensation of any kind, which any hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car company, railroad company, sleeping car company, or barber shop manager, officer or any agent thereof in charge of the same, allows to be given to an employee or which any person gives to an employee, or which is received by any employee and is not a part of the regular charge of the hotel, restaurant, cafe, dining car company, railroad company, sleeping car company, or barber shop, for any part of service rendered, or a part of the service which by contract it is under duty to render. No company or corporation shall evade this Act by adding to the regular charge, directly or indirectly, anything intended for or to be used or to be given away as a gratuity or "tip" to the employee. All charges must be made by the company or proprietor in good faith as a charge for the service it renders, inclusive of the service which it furnishes through employees.
  • Section 3. Copies of act to be posted. -- Each hotel shall post a copy of this Act in each room, and each restaurant, cafe, and barber shop, shall post at least two copies of this Act in two conspicuous places in their place of business, and each railroad company shall post two copies of this Act in their waiting rooms and passenger rooms at passenger stations in cities of three thousand inhabitants or more. Each sleeping car and dining car shall have posted therein, at least one copy of this Act.
  • Section 4. Penalty for failure to post. -- Any person or corporation failing to post copies as required shall be fined not less than ten dollars for such failure, and each day of such failure shall constitute a separate and distinct offense, and any person violating any of the other provisions of this Act shall be subject to a fine of not less than ten dollars, or more than one hundred dollars, or be imprisoned for not exceeding thirty days.
  • Section 5. All laws in conflict with this Act be, and the same are hereby, repealed, and this Act shall take effect on June first, nineteen hundred and fifteen.
(South Carolina, Session Laws 1915. pp. 262-263.)


Iowa, enacted 1915, struck down by state Supreme Court as unconstitutional, 1919. "Title 24, Ch. 11."

  • Sec. 5028-u. Accepting or soliciting gratuity or tip. Every employee of any hotel, restaurant, barber shop, or other public place, and every employee of any person, firm, partnership, or corporation, or of any public service corporation engaged in the transportation of passengers in the state, who shall accept or solicit any gratuity, tip, or other thing of value or of valuable consideration, from any guest or patron, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not less than five dollars, or more than twenty-five dollas, or be imprisoned in the county jail for a period not exceeding thirty days.
  • Sec. 5028-v. Giving or offering gratuity or tip. Every person who shall give or offer any tip or gratuity to any person or employee prohibited from receiving or soliciting the same by the provisions of the preceding section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and be punished upon conviction as provided by the preceding section.
  • Sec. 5028-w. Permitting violation of anti-tipping law -- failure to post sign. Any person who shall knowingly permit a violation of this act in any place under his control or who shall fail to keep conspicuously posted in every said place under his control a notice bearing the words "No tipping allowed" shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and be punished as provided in section one.
(Laws of Iowa 1915. (Des Moines, State Printer, 1915). p. 347.)


All the laws in this node were found in Kerry Segrave's book Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1998.

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