Mamma mia, what a pizza scandal!
The owner of six Queens Papa John’s pizza franchise locations has been hit with an order to pay nearly half a million dollars in back wages and other fees as part of a larger investigation targeting labor violations across the outer boroughs.
Franchisee Syed Mehboob and his businesses will pay $400,000 in back wages, liquidated damages and civil penalties, according to the New York State Attorney General. Restitution for violations from August 2008 to August 2014 are included in the settlement, which cracked down on labor abuse including violations of minimum wage, overtime and other basic labor law protections.
“Employers who underpay their employees not only deprive workers of the funds needed to buy their food, pay their rent or attend to other necessities, they undercut those law-abiding employers who pay their employees properly in the first place,” said Dr. David Weil, administrator for the Wage and Hour Division at the U.S. Department of Labor.
Mehboob has owned and operated four western Queens Papa John’s franchises in Woodside, Corona, Sunnyside and Astoria. He has also been the owner of two Papa John’s locations in Flushing.
Although some of his locations have seen been closed or sold, Mehboob’s remaining franchises will be required to post a statement of employee’s rights and submit quarterly reports to the Attorney General’s office regarding their ongoing compliance for three years, in addition to retaining an independent monitor to ensure future compliance with labor laws.
Three other locations in Brooklyn and the Bronx were named in the settlement. Back wages and damages will be distributed to more than 250 underpaid workers. According to State Attorney General Press Secretary Nick Benson, roughly half of all New York City Papa John’s franchisees have been reported for wage theft.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman called on Papa John’s and other fast food companies to step up and stop harming the workers who make and deliver their food.
“Once again, we’ve found Papa John’s franchises in New York that are ripping off their workers and violating critical state and federal laws,” Schneiderman said. “Fast food chains across the state should be on notice: we will not stop until your workers are treated with respect and paid lawful wages.”