My restaurant imposes an automatic 15% gratuity on parties of seven or more. Does that amount count as a tip?

Even though it may be called a gratuity, this required amount is a service charge and not a tip. These charges become part of the employer’s gross receipts and are not counted as tips received, even when they are paid over to you by your boss. The money paid to you can go toward your employer’s obligation to pay you the minimum wage, but it is not counted when determining whether you receive enough money in tips to be considered a tipped employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).