Today is National Waiters and Waitresses Day. To commemorate, check out this blog about the top ten wage violations in the restaurant industry written by waiterpay.com founder Louis Pechman, featured on the Huffington Post.
New York State Attorney General
Five Papa John’s locations in New York have been accused of failing to pay its delivery workers the minimum wage, shaving hours from their pay, and requiring them to pay for bicycles and safety equipment used to do their jobs. The lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman seeks to recover $2 million in damages for more than 400 delivery workers who were underpaid.
The lawsuit is the result of lengthy investigation by the Attorney General’s Labor Bureau that uncovered a multitude of wage violations by Papa Johns that included paying its delivery workers $5.00 an hour rather than the minimum wage of $7.25 at the time, shaving work hours by rounding down, improperly calculating overtime pay, requiring delivery workers to purchase bikes, helmets, locks, and chains at a cost of $500.00 a year, failing to pay spread of hours pay which is an additional hours of pay required when an employee worked more than 10 hours in a day, and not compensating for “call-in pay” which requires compensation for being called into work and then being sent home early.
In a press release on the filing of the lawsuit, Attorney General Schneiderman stated, “Nobody who works 40 hours a week should have to live in poverty.” He continued, “Like every other business in New York, fast-food employers must follow the law. My office will combat wage theft whenever and wherever we see it in order to protect the rights of hardworking New Yorkers, including pizza delivery workers and others who toil at fast-food restaurants.”
A New York owner has been arrested for failure to pay more than $35,000 in required minimum wage and overtime pay to five former employees, including cooks, cleaners, and cashiers. Elisa Parto, owner of restaurant Elisa’s Food & Plus, Inc. in Port Chester, NY, and Elisa’s Good & Plus, Inc. face multiple counts of Failure to Pay Wages under Labor Law Section 198-a(1), an unclassified misdemeanor. Elisa Parto faces a maximum jail term of one year, and both she and her company face maximum fines, in addition to restitution of $5,000 to her employees.
Ms. Parto opened her restaurant in 2010 and failed to pay the minimum wage and overtime pay to five employees who sometimes worked more than 70 hours a week between 2010 and 2014.
New York’s hourly minimum wage is $8.00 and New York and Federal Law require employers to pay time and a half when an employee works more than 40 hours a week. New York Labor Law also requires employers to pay wages no later than seven days after the end of the week when the wages were earned.
In a press release regarding the arrest, Schniederman stated that, “My office will take aggressive action, including criminal charges, where appropriate, against business owners who fail to properly compensate their employees for hours worked,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Protecting the livelihoods of hardworking New Yorkers is a priority for my office.”
The New York State Attorney General is investigating whether fast food restaurants have cheated their workers out of wages, according to a report in the New York Times. Eric T. Schneiderman, the Attorney General, is examining whether certain restaurants paid less than minimum wage, did not pay for overtime, failed to pay workers for work-related expenses, and falsified time records.
The New York Times article pointed out that restaurant delivery workers are among the most vulnerable to wage theft as they often use their own cars, bikes, and cell phones, but are often not reimbursed for these expenses. Delivery workers are also vulnerable to being robbed or injured at work and are often paid less than the minimum wage.