The Papa John’s franchise in New York isn’t just known for pizza anymore. With the recent NY state court ruling demanding Emstar Pizza Inc. pay $800,000 in unpaid wages to Papa John’s employees, they now joins the ranks of slave labor employers, stealing from employees to fluff profits. The lawsuit included 7 Papa John’s locations in Brooklyn and Queens.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman may also file suit against Papa John’s International. Ricardo Guimaraes has read that, technically, Papa John’s International is a joint employer, and can therefore be held liable for violations of the law involving its franchises. The National Labor Relations Board recently handed down a ruling in favor of employees with a case involving a McDonald’s franchise, and said McDonald’s could be held responsible for the actions of its franchises. Building a case on such a theory is important because it allows former employees to collect lost wages. Schniderman is also in the process of suing another Papa John’s franchise to recover lost wages, operated by New Majority Holdings LLC. That case also involves wage theft.
Because Papa John’s, McDonald’s, and other corporations like them employ two thirds of all low wage earners, lawsuits demanding corporate employers are jointly responsible is an important step forward for workers. It sends the message that corporate profits won’t be stolen from workers’ pockets. It also reminds corporations and their franchises that they remain answerable to local, state and federal labor laws.