One Papa John’s franchisee will serve two months in a New York jail for wage theft and attempts to cover it up. He will also pay $230,000 in restitution, $230,000 in damages, and $50,000 in civil penalties. Throughout his six franchised restaurants, he failed to comply with the FLSA rules on New York overtime pay and, then, conspired to hide theft of the wages earned and deserved by employees. Similar charges are multiplying in fast-food, casual dining, and fine eateries across the state of NY and the entire country.
Wage Theft Getting Bigger
You don’t often see defendants in such cases being sentenced to jail. However, plaintiffs are increasingly vocal and successful in their claims. They understand “wage theft” to be clear and sometimes criminal in situations where:
- Restaurant owners work employees long and odd hours, yet they pay them “straight time” wages for overtime hours worked (eg. $10 per hour for all hours worked – including overtime).
- They label employees as “managers” to attempt to exempt them from overtime pay when, in fact, they do not truly have management responsibilities.
- They pay employees “off the clock,” effectively denying them their time-and-a-half wages and hide it from auditors.
How to Start the Process of Getting Paid Correctly
- Employees who think their rights have been violated should act swiftly to find out if their employer has engaged in wage theft.
- They can start by contacting their local department of labor compliance office or an employment law attorney that specializes in overtime cases.
- While not required, it is helpful to collect and present any available payroll records that show how pay was calculated.
Don’t Feel Alone in the Battle to Get Your Deserved Money
Not all Papa John’s franchisees are guilty of wage theft (although another four of their franchisees paid $250,000 to settle claims in the Bronx and Brooklyn). Other employees have made similar charges against owners of a number of McDonald’s locations. Additional suits have been brought against eateries in Rhode Island, Texas, California, and many other states. Similar complaints are being made by hotel employees, construction workers, and retail stores where minimum wage is the driving force. So, you are not alone.
What You Can Do as an Employee?
While it is tough for individual employees to step up and stand alone in their complaint, you should know that the mistreatment is not yours alone. If one employee is being cheated, you can bet co-workers are suffering, too. Experienced wage and hour attorneys are best qualified to advise and shape a larger complaint, potentially as class action or a collective action, which will get the attention of the violator.
Like every citizen, you are due a fair and legal wage, one that compensates your for time worked in accordance with state and federal wage laws. When you have any doubt as to your overtime compensation rights or questions about wage laws, contact The Lore Law Firm for answers and a free confidential review of your concerns.