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September 19, 2022

Black’s Barbecue Inc. shared the tips of servers with managers

AUSTIN, TX — The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $230,353 in back wages for 274 employees employed by a popular central Texas barbecue restaurant operator after investigations found the employer gave some of the employee tips to restaurant managers – a practice not allowed by federal law.

Investigators from the Pay and Hours Division found Black’s Barbecue Inc.; Kent Black’s Lockhart Barbecue Inc. and New Braunfels Barbecue LLC — all co-owned and operating as Black’s Barbecue restaurant — kept some of the employees’ tips and illegally shared them with executives. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits employers, managers, and supervisors from retaining tips that the company’s employees receive for any purpose, whether or not the employer receives a tip.

“Employers in the food industry need to know that tips belong to employees who have been given tips, which they just deserve,” said Nicole Sellers, district director of Wage and Hour Division in Austin, Texas. “Employees and their families are dependent on their rightfully earned wages and benefits. If you take from them, you take from their families. The Pay and Hours Division is committed to protecting the rights of all essential foodservice workers.”

Black’s Barbecue Inc. and Kent Black’s Lockhart Barbecue Inc. have been operating in Texas for three generations. In addition to Lockhart, the employer has offices in Austin, New Braunfels and San Marcos.

In fiscal 2021, the division identified nearly $35 million in back wages owed to more than 29,000 employees in the foodservice industry. In its foodservice investigations, the department often finds violations related to employer withholding tips, failure to pay overtime when necessary, and failure to pay for pre- and post-shift work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment in food preparation and service occupations will grow 20 percent between 2020 and 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations, creating approximately 2.3 million jobs. These professions are among the lowest paid groups in the country. Employers who ensure that their employees receive their rightful wages and benefits are best placed to retain and hire skilled workers.

Find out more about the Pay and Hours Division, including a search tool you can use if you think you may be owed wages in arrears. Employees can call the Pay and Hours Department regardless of immigration status, it’s toll-free, confidential, and the department can speak to callers in over 200 languages.

Download the agency’s new Timesheet app for iOS and Android devices to ensure hours and payments are accurate.

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