Yes – deducting credit card processing fees from gratuities paid to tipped employees is generally permissible under both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Minnesota law.  The Department of Labor (DOL) addressed this issue in a 2006 opinion letter.  The DOL’s position is that it is not a violation of the FLSA for an employer to reduce “the amount of credit card tips paid to the employee by an amount no greater than the amount charged to the employer by the credit card company.”  It is also permissible for an employer to “deduct an average standard composite amount for tip liquidation, rather than individually calculating the precise charge for each transaction, so long as the total amount collected reasonably reimburses the employer for no more than the total amounts charged by the credit card companies attributable to liquidating credit card tips.”
The rule is the same under Minnesota law.  Regulations from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry provide that “[w]here a tip is given by a customer through a credit or charge card, the full amount of tip must be allowed the direct service employee minus only the percentage deducted from the tip in the same ratio as the percentage deducted from the total bill by the service company.”  See Minn. R. § 5200.0080, subp. 7.
An employer who deducts credit card processing fees from gratuities paid to tipped employees must still comply with all other applicable requirements of the FLSA and Minnesota law.
Takeaway for Employers:  An employer who deducts credit card processing fees from gratuities paid to tipped employees should be careful not to deduct more than the amount charged by the credit card company.