A federal investigation into Black’s Barbecue found the Central Texas food chain broke a year-old law by sharing tips – reallocating $230,353 in tips from servers to managers, taking away wages earned from more than 270 employees – the US Department of Labor announced on Monday.
Black’s Barbecue locations in Austin, New Braunfels, Lockhart and San Marcos were targeted by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigation resulting from a 2019 audit and change in federal labor regulations. work making it illegal to share tips earned by employees with management personnel.
Kent Black, grandson of Black’s Barbecue original owner Edgar Black Sr. and a current member of Black’s ownership group, told the American statesman on Tuesday that the company has outsourced its payroll and does not was unaware of the revised rule that managers should not take tips.
“We’re barbecue experts, we’re not payroll experts,” Black said. “We weren’t tracking this closely, and apparently our payroll company didn’t pick this up.”
The Labor Department said Monday that the illegally shared wages had been recovered.
“Employers in the restaurant industry should be aware that tips are the property of the employees who earn them, plain and simple,” said Nicole Sellers, district manager of the department’s wage and hour division in Austin. “Workers and their families depend on their legitimate wages and benefits. If you take from them, you take from their families.”
In 2018, legislative changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act made it illegal for employers to withhold employee tips under any circumstances. The changes were later instituted by the Department of Labor in 2020 before taking effect in April 2021.
Black said Monday’s announcement was unexpected since the federal investigation into the company and conversations with the Department of Labor began in 2019.
He said his 2021 barbecue namesake refunded misallocated tips that were shared with managers at the chain’s four venues.
The reimbursement was about 10% of what employees should have been paid originally under updated federal guidelines, Black said.
“We’ve been around for 90 years, paying our taxes, paying our staff, trying to be good citizens. So we immediately changed the way we gave out those tips without them asking us to,” said Black.
The New York Times ranks Austin’s restaurant among the nation’s 50 best
So far this year, the Wage and Hour Division has identified $35 million in back wages affecting about 29,000 workers.
Over the past decade, Department of Labor records show that the restaurant industry is one of the most consistent wage environments for workers, along with the construction industry, which lose tens of millions of dollars. dollars in salaries each year.
Employees who feel they may owe guaranteed wages are encouraged to use the Department of Labor’s Worker Wages owed search tool and search for their company name.
Black’s hold on central Texas
Founded in Lockhart in 1932, Black’s Barbecue has become a Texas barbecue staple over the decades by expanding its operations in central Texas and raising generations of pit masters who have joined the family business.
In 2014, Black’s Barbecue added locations near the University of Texas campus and in San Marcos. Another smokehouse was built in New Braunfels in 2018.
Police arrest arson suspect charged with setting fire to commercial building Crow Bar
Unaffiliated with the original company but very close to the family, Mark and Michael Black, grandsons of Edgar Sr. and nephews of Kent Black, opened their own barbecue chain named after their father, Terry Black’s Barbecue.
Since opening its first store on Barton Springs Road in 2014, the meat-smoking subsidiary has opened an additional location in Dallas as well as where the family barbecue game began in Lockhart.
#Blacks #Barbecue #linked #illegal #tipsharing #federal #investigation