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Two Brooklyn Papa John’s franchise locations cited for underpaying employees

February 3, 2015 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Eric Schneiderman, AP photo

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he has obtained separate Brooklyn judgments against Emstar Pizza, a Papa John’s franchisee, and its owner and operator for underpaying employees. The violations include shaving workers’ pay by under-reporting hours and rounding down hours worked to the nearest whole hour increment (and paying nothing for fractions of hours), as well as nonpayment of overtime premiums — all in violation of New York State Labor Law.

Kings County Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes issued a judgment against Emstar Pizza Inc. operator Emmanuel Onuaguluchi for $789,507.06 in owed wages, uniform maintenance, liquidated damages and interest to hundreds of employees who have worked for him over the past six years, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle has learned.

In a separate consent order and judgment, Baynes approved a settlement agreement that holds Emstar Pizza Inc. and its owner Uchenna Onuaguluchi jointly responsible for $541,337.61 of this amount in owed wages, liquidated damages and interest. Both orders permanently enjoin Emstar Pizza Inc. and its owners and operators from selling any stores unless the attorney general holds proceeds from the sale in escrow. The attorney general will use the money to distribute as restitution to underpaid employees.

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“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,’” Schneiderman said in a released statement Monday.

“[Hon. Baynes’ rulings] send a clear message that like every other business in New York, fast food employers must follow the law,” the A.G. further added. “Depriving workers of their wages or other lawful benefits hurts families and communities, and creates an unfair advantage for employers who don’t play by the rules.” 

As reported by the A.G.’s Office, the Brooklyn judgments stemmed from a lawsuit by the attorney general’s Labor Bureau, following their investigation into Emstar’s pay practices, supplemented by information provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. Baynes’ orders came after a temporary restraining order was placed on the pizza establishments prohibiting the sale of any stores after learning that Emstar Pizza and its owners and operators were seeking to sell their assets, which would have frustrated efforts to recoup wages they owe to their employees.

The Brooklyn Papa Johns’ franchises involved include those located at 2838 Atlantic Ave. in East New York and 1011 Broadway in Bushwick.

— Information from the Office of the New York State Attorney General



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