A local barbecue chain paid employees nearly $900,000 after the US Department of Labor said employees did not receive their fair share of tips and overtime pay. The restaurant says the case is about a misunderstanding of labor law.
Department of Labor investigators said Hard Eight BBQ in Roanoke shared tips that servers got with hourly managers and that those managers were not paid at the correct time and half rate for working hours in excess of 40 hours per week.
The Department of Labor said Thursday that Hard Eight paid $867,572 in tip and overtime wages to 910 workers at its five restaurants.
Wage and Hour District Manager Jesus A. Des in Dallas explained, “Roanoke Hard Eight broke the law by including managers in their tip pool. In doing so, the employer deprived tip workers of some of their tips and their managers of appropriate overtime pay.” “As companies struggle to find people to do the work required to continue operating, employers would be wise to avoid abuse or risk finding it more difficult to retain and hire workers who could choose to look for jobs where they would receive all of their wages owed.”
In an interview with NBC 5 on Friday afternoon, Matt Perry, chief operating officer of Hard Eight BBQ, said they were contacted in 2020 about the investigation and that the audit soon revealed some red flags in their information-sharing program that should be directed.
Berry said that managers were part of the tip pool at their five restaurants because they perform the same jobs as other employees every hour on any given shift and because of that they felt managers should also receive a small portion of the tip.
The Ministry of Justice told Hard Eight that the . file Wages and Fair Labor Standards Act That took effect in 2019, did not allow the employer, their managers, or their supervisors to keep tips received by company workers for any purpose, regardless of whether or not the employer claims tip credit.
According to Perry, Hard Eight never withheld salaries for any employee, and the company misunderstood the law and simply gave advice to the wrong people.
Upon learning of the change in the bylaws, Berry said the restaurant made immediate changes including adjusting the tip pool to not only include hourly non-managers but also raising managers’ salaries to make up for the loss of not being in the tip pool.
Berry said Hard Eight BBQ has been in compliance since August 2021 with the law, which he said they checked again with the Department of Labor Friday morning.
NBC 5’s Patrick Reynolds contributed to this report.