Papa John's Franchisee Gets Jail for Dodging Overtime

NYC owner also to cough up more than $500K in back pay, damages, penalties
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2015 9:09 AM CST
Papa John's Franchisee Gets Jail for Dodging Overtime
In a file photo, the general manager of a downtown Louisville, Ky., Papa John's restaurant puts toppings on a deep-dish pizza, Sept. 23, 2005.   (AP Photo/Patti Longmire)

A Papa John's owner tried to make a buck off his employees' backs, and now he's paying big time. Abdul Jamil Khokhar, who owns nine of the chain's restaurants in the NYC area along with BMY Foods, has pleaded guilty to not paying the correct minimum wage when workers put in overtime, Fortune reports. He and BMY were also accused of filing false business records to make it appear as if other (i.e., fake) employees were actually working those extra hours so he wouldn't get nabbed for not paying the overtime, per a press release. The AP notes that about 300 current and ex-employees were affected. "Wage theft is a crime, and a Papa John's franchisee is now going to jail for cheating his employees and trying to cover it up," state AG Eric Schneiderman says. "My office will do everything in its power to ... make sure that all employers—including fast food restaurants—follow the law."

The minimum wage in New York state is $8.75 per hour, with an increase to $9 per hour set to take effect Dec. 31, per the state Labor Department. And when workers put in more than 40 hours per week, they're supposed to be paid time-and-a-half. But, along with co-owner BMY Foods, Khokhar tried to game the system, paying his workers just their regular wages for overtime hours, then concocting ghost workers and filing fraudulent tax returns when he realized the US Labor Department was investigating him, the press release notes. A civil sentence laid out in July mandated that Khokhar cough up $230,000 in back pay for his workers, as well as $230,000 in damages and $50,000 in penalties, Consumerist notes. He'll also spend 60 days in jail as part of his sentence. (More restaurant workers are getting raises as the no-tipping trend widens.)

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