A waitress serves drinks.  (June 22, 2010)

A waitress serves drinks. (June 22, 2010) Credit: Emily Anne Epstein

With three weeks left in the legislative session in Albany, the Senate has passed a bill that would strip catering employees of money that's rightfully theirs in order to protect the companies that employ them.

In 2008 the state's highest court ruled that money that appeared on caterers' bills as "service charges" must be given to servers. It seems obvious: Not only did customers believe the cash would end up in the hands of servers, the charge on the bill likely reduced the amount they tipped those workers.

Lawsuits have been filed over events back to 2004. Caterers should have to pay the employees, if, as the decision said, customers had a reasonable expectation the money was a gratuity. No company deserves immunity from redressing these deceptions. The Assembly should defeat this bill.