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Judge orders Papa John's franchisee to compensate employees

A Papa John's franchisee was ordered to pay workers nearly $800,000 for unpaid wages and other damages by a New York judge. The franchisee, Emstar Pizza Inc., owns and operates seven Papa John's restaurants in Queens and Brooklyn. According to the state's attorney general, the multi-unit franchisee rounded employee's hours down to the nearest whole hour before paying them and failed to pay them overtime in violation of state law.

n addition to compensating employees for their unpaid wages, Emstar was ordered to stop selling additional units unless they agree to keep the proceeds from the sales in escrow. The funds would be held so that the attorney general could distribute them to workers who were victims of Emstar's wage and hour law violations.

There have been reports that the attorney general might take action against Papa John's International Inc. However, a spokeswoman for the franchisor said that they are not in control of activities at independent franchisees' restaurants. The spokeswoman also commented that there were no company-owned restaurants operated by Papa John's International in the state of New York. If the attorney general goes forward with an action against the franchisor, the franchisor would have to be considered a joint employer.

Employers are not permitted to round down hours or deny overtime wages for their employees. A worker who believes that they have not been compensated for the work that they did might choose to consult with an attorney about the remedies that exist for unpaid wages. In many cases, several workers may have the same types of complaints at the same time. An attorney may be able to help workers to file a class action lawsuit if it is appropriate.

Source: Nation's Restaurant News, "Papa John's franchisee ordered to pay in wage lawsuit", Jonathan Maze, Feb. 2, 2015

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