Texas barbecue restaurant took server tips for managers: fed


The U.S. Department of Labor recovered $230,353 in back wages for 274 workers of Black’s Barbecue Inc.

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Servers working for a Texas barbecue chain were forced to illegally give some of their tip money to managers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Now the federal department has recovered $230,353 in back wages for 274 workers who were employed by Black’s Barbecue, “a popular central Texas barbecue restaurant operator.”

Authorities made the recovery after an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found three restaurants had kept a portion of the employees’ tip money to share with managers, according to a Sept. 19 news release.

Those restaurants include Black’s Barbecue Inc., Kent Black’s Lockhart Barbecue Inc. and New Braunfels Barbecue LLC — all with the same owners and operating as Black’s Barbecue, officials said.

In a statement to McClatchy News, owner Kent Black said the company was not aware of a 2020 rule change that said ”managers should not receive tips.”

The rule went into effect on April 30, 2021 “to protect tipped workers,” according to the Labor Department. The law now says an employee who is paid the full minimum wage cannot participate in tip pools, and managers or supervisors cannot take tips received by their workers.

“Our payroll has always been outsourced and we relied on the HR company for advice,” Black said. “When notified of the rule change, we quickly and voluntarily came into compliance with DOL.”

He added that no Blacks BBQ owners received any of the tip money, and all affected current and former employees have since been compensated with what they were owed. Black said this violation was resolved with the Labor Department in 2021.

“Food service industry employers must know that tips are the property of tipped employees who earn them, plain and simple,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Nicole Sellers said in the news 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.”

Kaitlyn Alanis is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter based in Kansas. She is an agricultural communications & journalism alumna of Kansas State University.

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