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Aug 15, 2017 3:06 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hospital's 'No Tipping' Policy Is Unfair, Says Parking Valet

Valet parking at Southampton Hospital. JEN NEWMAN
Aug 15, 2017 3:13 PM

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s valet service has been free to patients since its inception in 2008—but at least one valet says it does come at a cost for the hospital’s handful of part-time employees.

According to hospital policy, valets are not allowed to accept tips for the service, which is offered at the hospital’s main entrance on Meeting House Lane.

Riverhead resident and hospital valet Cynthia McLaughlin, 56, said the policy limits her to the $16 an hour she is paid as a part-time employee. She estimates that in the busy season she could be making as much as $100 daily in tips.

“We’re working in heat, snow, sleet, hail—and you want to begrudge me my tips?” Ms. McLaughlin said, noting that she was not informed about the policy before she was hired earlier this year. “It’s a joke.”

Previously, valets at the hospital were not employees but subcontractors, who, according to Ms. McLaughlin, were permitted to keep their tips. During her first two weeks on the job in March, she said hospital officials actually collected all gratuities given to the valet parking staff, using the proceeds to benefit the hospital. They later refunded the tips for that time period after finding out that the practice ran afoul of state labor rules.

According to Southampton Hospital spokeswoman Marsha Kenny, it is a hospital policy that all employees should not accept tips, and that includes the part-time valets.

If a patient insists that a valet accept a tip, they are allowed to take it, Ms. McLaughlin said, but that is difficult when every person who pulls up is handed a printed copy of the hospital’s “no tipping” policy.

Ms. McLaughlin noted that in her experience, the policy also makes the patients she serves uncomfortable.

“You get to know people—they’re really upset,” she said of patients. “I have people hiding me money. They care for me. They’re trying to sneak it because they’re afraid I’ll lose my job.”

Although Southampton recently merged with Stony Brook University Hospital—which has a similar valet service and does allow valets to accept tips—the now Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s policy will not change, Ms. Kenny said.

However, at some hospital fundraisers, valets have been allowed to keep tips, which concerns Ms. McLaughlin, who said she felt like the hospital kept “moving the goal posts.”

“If nobody says something, this is how people get away with things,” she said. “I’m not afraid, because I don’t give a shit—I just want them to do what’s right.”

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Just had surgery in stony brook, valet's accepted tips. Every one accept's tips. Did they get tips at the GALLA???
Do the nurses accept cookies and cake from patients?
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 16, 17 10:27 AM
2 members liked this comment
This is ridiculous! Of course they should be allowed to accept tips. Not only that but people using any type of valet parking should expect to tip.
By disappointed (96), wainscott on Aug 16, 17 11:58 AM
1 member liked this comment
A business, by law, can not restrict employees from receiving tips that are directly given to them by someone regardless of policy set by the business. They can, however, create a tip sharing policy and proportion out all tips received by all employees in that department and pay them out to each person who worked on a pro-rata hourly basis.

Let them keep their tips, it hurts no one. I tip them all the time! Silly rule.
By whatapity (106), Tuckahoe on Aug 16, 17 4:15 PM
I thought tips were expected for the valets at the hospital. I have always tipped and no one has turned it down.
By fishcove (39), southampton on Aug 16, 17 8:38 PM
Any hospital I've been to does not allow valet tips. The valet service, in this case, is a necessity due to lack of parking spaces. The no tipping policy is in place because the hospital is not a luxury service provider and many patients/families/visitors may not be able to afford to tip, especially when they need to visit frequently. Allowing tips will create an expectation of gratuities from all and will likely result in preferential treatment for those who can afford to tip. The valets accepted ...more
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Aug 16, 17 10:48 PM
nice quote! She doesn't give a S*^t? Is that how their employees represent them?
SH Hospital couldn't handle a simple paper cut!
Do not be fooled by the Stoney Brook name add-on - YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER!
It's like LIPA changing their name to PSE&G - is your service any better?
If you value your life you will jump in a car and head for Stoney Brook MAIN HOSPITAL - a REAL Hospital who will save you in an emergency.
If you haven't guessed yet I had several bad experiences there ...more
By DisgustedHamptons (58), Hampton Bays on Aug 17, 17 12:19 AM
1 member liked this comment
I have had very good experiences in Southampton hospital both being admitted and the Emergency room.
By mtkfish (59), montauk on Aug 19, 17 8:19 AM
Wish I could say the same. They nearly killed me in a botched operation and then altered and concealed medical records to the point where my insurance wouldn't pay because they couldn't understand why I was in the Hospital. They called in an outside physician to fix their screw up and then I had to go to SBH to have the procedure reversed, saving my life! I won't even get in to how they misdiagnosed my Father in the ER! MTKFISH hope you're doing good!
By DisgustedHamptons (58), Hampton Bays on Aug 27, 17 3:39 AM
Build a parking lot. Problem solved.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Aug 17, 17 8:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
$16/hour plus what benefits? Full medical? At about $1000/month for that benefit alone and 100 hours of work each month that equates to $26/hour.
Put the tip jar away or quit.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Aug 17, 17 9:09 AM
Did you even bother to read the first 3 sentences of the article? The employee is part time, she might be eligible for benefits. Unless the business owner might specifically limit her hours. Why does it even matter to you, this employee providing a free service, might get a few extra dollars? Tipping is optional.
By Genuin (26), Hampton Bays on Aug 17, 17 10:48 AM
If she doesn't like her EMPLOYERS rules she can quit and find another job.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Aug 18, 17 1:23 AM
2 members liked this comment
Yes I read the entire article. Does not say whether this job has benefits. I don't really think that sick people going in the hospital and the families of sick people in the hospital need to worry about having change to give someone that is parking their car so that the hospital doesn't have to worry about transporting sick people from any open parking spaces blocks away. If you don't like this poiky quit your $16/hour job with or without benefits and go work at a coffee shop and look forward ...more
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Aug 18, 17 2:57 AM
While I always tip and believe they should be able to receive tips, I wonder if the employee knew about the tipping policy before they agreed to take the job.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Aug 17, 17 9:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Do police officers receive tips? How about the school crossing guard? They don't make much more than this person does. Do I need to tip the bus driver? Taxi drivers get tips why not bus drivers? Once inside the hospital do It tip the orderly with the wheelchair? The nurses? Have some pride Americans, we're not all waiters in restaurants for rich people.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Aug 18, 17 9:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
I do believe that a tip is not a requirement. It is a token of good service.
By sgt202 (75), Hampton Bays on Aug 18, 17 2:10 PM
And when someone who is parking your car when you're dropping off your sick, aging parent and you don't have small bills or you're hands are full getting the wheelchair and the parking valet is demanding a tip and you're stressed and anxious about a health crisis, should you be worrying about some one taking worse care for your car because you didn't tip? The reason the valet is there is to expedite drop offs of sick people not some doofy party or a dinner at a restaurant.
Shame on you for ...more
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Aug 19, 17 3:33 AM
Lighten up, Francis.

No one is talking about anyone "demanding" tips. No one is talking about any level of taking care of your car. No one is talking about anyone taking advantage of anyone else.

The issue is simply one of allowing someone who wants to tip the valet to do so without the worker's job being put in jeopardy.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 19, 17 5:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
How about we allow someone to bring a sick person to the hospital without having to worry about some stranger with their hand out? Or maybe we can get some drunks with squeegees offering to clean your windshield too.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Aug 19, 17 7:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
How about we don't create fiction in a feeble attempt to prove a point? Uniformed valets in a valet area are not what most would consider "strangers." There are absolutely zero (that's none, nil, zip, nada) reports of any hospital valet intimidating or even attempting to intimidate any other person into feeling as if a tip is required.

You'll need to look somewhere else to make your fantasy of drunken squeegee people come true. If the mere presence of other people is such a distressing ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 20, 17 12:54 AM
It's a hospital entrance, for dropping off sick people going to the hospital. They are by definition incapacitated in some way, and have family or friends helping them or they are alone. Anxiety levels are high. The last thing an invalid needs is another hurdle in getting from their car to the hospital, where they may be put in a wheelchair and helped to medical attendants.

So how about we pay the valet a decent wage, say, I don't know, $16 an hour, and forbid tipping so that there ...more
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Aug 20, 17 1:42 AM