Papa John’s Franchisees Pay Out Half A Million In Wage Theft Settlement

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Four current and former Papa John’s Franchisees in New York City have agreed to a 500,000 dollar settlement to pay back 250 employees whose wages were stolen through illegal practices, like forcing them to work unpaid overtime and to work off the clock. The settlement involved nine restaurants in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. The franchisees admitted to violating minimum wage and overtime laws.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) has vigorously prosecuted wage theft in his state, treating it both as a civil and a criminal matter. In July, the Attorney General’s office arrested Abdul Jamil Khokhar, owner of nine Papa John’s stores in New York. Khokar could serve two months in jail for violating minimum wage and overtime laws. While that is barely a slap on the wrist, most states decline to file criminal charges against employers who commit wage theft against their employees.

The criminal prosecution of Khokar, and the civil settlement requiring Papa John’s franchisees to pay back their employees, is a step in the right direction. However, the practice of low wage employers stealing from their employees is widespread, and the Papa John’s franchisees in New York City are just the tip of the iceberg.

An Anzalone Listz Grove Research survey, conducted in April 2013, found that 84 percent of fast food workers and 100 percent of food delivery workers in New York City had experienced some form of wage theft. The Economic Policy Institute cited a three-city study in 2009, that found the average low wage worker is ripped off by his or her employer to the tune of 2,634 dollars a year. Nationally, that extrapolates out to employers stealing over 50 billion dollars a year from their low wage employees.

Attorney Generals in every state should make a concerted effort to go after employers who cheat their workers out of their hard earned money. Americans should of course support an increase in the minimum wage, but they also should demand that employers comply with the law and pay their employees for the hours they work. Without vigorous prosecution of employers who cheat their employees, companies will try to get away with exploiting workers without just compensation. Wage theft needs to be treated like the serious crime that it is, and managers, owners and CEOs who rip off their employees, should be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, with harsh civil and criminal penalties if they are found guilty.

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11 Replies to “Papa John’s Franchisees Pay Out Half A Million In Wage Theft Settlement”

  1. here in so. cal. we have in and out burger. they start out at 11 bucks, with benefits. if you stay with the company you make good money, and benefits. really a well run company, like costco. you can do business and treat your employees like people not cattle.

    workers of the world, unite.

  2. This isn’t an isolated case. DOL has been fighting record numbers of violations for some time now.

    Overtime and unpaid wages problems are esp. common in businesses that employ low wage workers. People often don’t know their rights, or fear to speak up. Too easy to get fired.

    The other end of the spectrum: workers paid “salaries” [NOTE: salaried≠exempt], or classified as exempt or contractor. Too often these are scams to cheat workers out of pay and benefits.

    I used to teach about the FLSA:

    #1 By default, all workers are covered by MW and OT provisions. Exemptions are to be narrowly construed, thus keeping MW/OT protections for as many workers as possible.

    #2 Burden is on employer to prove an employee meets exemption rules and is NOT entitled to MW/OT protections. Violators can go to jail, among other punishments.

    #3 If in doubt about whether someone is protected, see #1.

  3. The poorest in our society have always been the most vulnerable, and add undocumented immigrant to that mix and its rife with abuse.

    And Fox News demonizes these people on top of it all.

  4. When the ACA was enacted, I remember hearing that Papa John’s would increase the price of their products to pay for their employees’ health insurance.

  5. hmmm, papa john. didn’t i hear that he’s one of the regulars at the koch’s rather secretive and exclusive yearly donor/supporter parties? coincidence his franchises might not hold similar views on how to treat their workers? i think not.

  6. …wasn’t there a brief moment of scandal when “Papa John” was caught cutting his employees hours so they didn’t qual as Full Time???
    {{{Have never eaten Papa Johns Pizza, or Godfathers Pizza; and never will}}}

  7. I seem to remember that Papa John’s made some comment about having to raise the price of pizza’s by 15 cents in order to give employees health insurance.

  8. I won’t go to papa johns bc he supported hobby lobby in their battle against giving healthcare for contraception to their employees

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