A chain of barbecue restaurants in Texas was ordered to pay $230,353 in back wages to employees.
According to Wage and Hour Division investigators, employers kept employee tips for managers.
The division found almost $35 million in owed back wages to 29,000 employees in fiscal year 2021.
Investigators from the US Department of Labor found that a Texas barbecue chain owes $230,353 in back wages to 274 employees, after employers took part of employees tips and shared them with managers.
The DOL's Wage and Hour Division is ordering Black's Barbecue restaurant to pay employees back, after illegally keeping tips from employees, according to a press release from the department. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers, managers, and supervisors are not allowed to keep employees' tips.
Black's Barbecue restaurant operates Black's Barbecue Inc; Kent Black's Lockhart Barbecue Inc., and New Braunfels Barbecue LLC.
"Food service industry employers must know that tips are the property of tipped employees who earn them, plain and simple," Nicole Sellers, Wage and Hour Division district director in Austin, Texas, said in the department's press release. "Workers and their families depend on their rightfully earned wages and benefits. If you take from them, you take from their families. The Wage and Hour Division is committed to safeguarding the rights of all essential food service workers."
The Wage and Hour Division has found almost $35 million in owed back wages to over 29,000 employees in the food service industry for fiscal year 2021. According to the Department of Labor's press release, most of the owed back wages come from withheld tips, not paying required overtime, and not paying employees for pre-shift and post-shift work.
Black's BBQ shared a video to Facebook addressing the news around the restaurant, and sharing what it called "the full story."
"We've been in business for 90 years and our goal has always been to follow every rule, every regulation, every procedure out there, and as everybody knows, there's a bunch of them," Kent Black, owner of Black's Barbecue restaurant, said in the video. "We missed a rule change that affects how the way tips are distributed."
Black said the company uses another company to do its payroll who "also missed that rule change."
"We're taking responsibility for it," Black said.
He said when the Department of Labor looked at the way the restaurant pays employees, it found the mistake which the restaurant "quickly corrected."
Black said the restaurant gave checks to employees to make up for the difference in allocated tips. He said the restaurant is now in compliance, and has not received penalties from the Department of Labor. Black said it was a "real gut punch" when he found out the restaurant missed the rule.
He said he was "a little surprised" when the Department of Labor's press release came out about the restaurant because the issue was resolved a year ago.
"It's just an honest mistake, and we're sorry it happened," Black said at the end of the video.