- An Austin restaurant operator will pay a group of workers more than $230,000 after the U.S. Department of Labor found they were required to share tips with managers, the agency announced Sept. 19.
- Across several locations, Black’s Barbecue Inc. allegedly took a portion of its employees’ gratuities for managers — a practice prohibited by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- The DOL said 274 workers will share the back pay.
In its announcement, the DOL cautioned others in the foodservice industry: “Food service industry employers must know that tips are the property of tipped employees who earn them, plain and simple,” DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD)District Director Nicole Sellers said in a statement.
Sellers added that WHD is committed to safeguarding the rights of food service workers, and DOL highlighted that last year, it collected nearly $35 million in back wages for those in the industry. In addition to employers keeping workers’ tips, the DOL said it commonly finds violations related to unpaid pre- and post-shift work and improperly paid overtime hours.
That enforcement may only grow if the field sees the outsized growth the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted. But compliance with federal law can help employers avoid such enforcement and can aid in the war for talent, the DOL said: “Employers who ensure their workers are paid their rightful wages and benefits will be best positioned to retain and recruit skilled workers.”