Papa John's, a pizza company not exactly known for their worker-friendly policies, may be the target of legal action after a franchisee in New York was ordered by a state judge to pay nearly $800,000 after being accused of underpaying employees and failing to pay them overtime. Emstar Pizza, which owns seven Papa John's stores, was sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for allegedly underreporting hours worked by employees and rounding workers' hours down to the nearest hour, as well as not paying overtime to workers who earned it. Schneiderman said that he is considering pursuing action against Papa John's as well.
In December, the National Labor Relations Board's general council issued a complaint against certain McDonald's franchisees and McDonald's USA as joint employers and therefore both should be liable for labor and wage violations at franchise locations. Schneiderman could make a similar argument about Papa John's, particularly considering how tightly controlled franchises are under the company's uniform standards. If Schneiderman pursues a complaint against the overall company, it would make it easier for former employees to collect wages they claim were stolen from them.
About the case, Schneiderman said:
This judgment sends a clear message that like every other business in New York, fast-food employers must follow the law. This Papa John’s franchisee brazenly violated the law, shaving employees’ hours and avoiding paying overtime by various means, including giving managerial sounding titles such as ‘head driver.’