Agreement Reached in Wage Theft Lawsuit Against Chicago Dunkin’ Donuts Franchisee

on Jul29

28 July 2017 | 3:02 pm

An agreement has been reached between the workers and the owner of Dunkin’ Donuts who filed a federal class action lawsuit last year for wage theft, according to a lead attorney in the case.

“We have reached a settlement agreement with a third-party administrator concerning back wages and the workers should start receiving checks in three to six months,” said Lam Nguyen Ho, a lawyer and executive director and founder of the Community Activism Law Alliance, which represented the Dunkin’ Donuts employees.

The suit alleged wage theft at 16 downtown Chicago locations operated by the same owner. The suit alleges that the franchise owner frequently made unauthorized deductions from workers’ paychecks for cash register shortages, manipulated time cards and failed to pay the minimum wage and overtime.

Workers told the media last year that they not only had their wages stolen but were also mistreated until they quit.

Ho said the franchise owner set up each of his franchise network’s 16 Dunkin’ Donuts under a different corporate name. He would assign employees to work 30 hours at one location and 20 hours at another location in order to avoid paying overtime of more than 40 hours a week for one company.

Other wage-theft violations included the workers having to set up early in the morning before their official start time and cleaning up after they were supposed to clock out and not getting properly compensated, Ho said. They would also be expected to attend training workshops in which they were not compensated. Workers were also liable for bank fees when their paychecks bounced due to issues on the employer’s end.

Christina Padilla is one of two former Dunkin’ Donuts franchise workers named as plaintiffs in the suit. She came in contact with Arise in Little Village where they joined forces with the law alliance to file the class action suit on behalf of 100 current and former employees, Ho said.

She told the media when the lawsuit was filed that she was not paid for work she was required to do at home, such as rearranging shifts when workers called off. Employees were also required to clock out while running work-related errands, she claimed.

“I’m glad we got back the lost wages for our clients and they could organize,” Ho said. “We worked together.”

Defendants named in the suit include Ruby Foods Inc., Standard Foods Inc., Moonstone Foods Enterprises LLC, Sirajuddin Virani and Faisal Merchant.

Carolyn Morales, from Arise Chicago who helped organize the Dunkin’ Donuts workers, said wage theft is an issue impacting workers across various industries.

The city’s airport workers filed lawsuits against the city last year for wage theft accusing the airport contractors of stiffing the workers on their paychecks.

The SEIU Local 1 union estimated O’Hare workers were cheated out of $1 million over a year when they worked off the clock, didn’t get overtime pay, or when tipped employees, like wheelchair attendants, didn’t earn enough tips to reach the standard minimum wage.

“It’s a huge problem, not only in the city of Chicago, but across the nation,” Morales told Progress Illinois last year. “It happens in any type of industry that we’ve seen, but is really concentrated with low-wage workers who are working often the hardest, the most amount of hours, who need the money the most. And they’re getting it stolen each and every day.”

Padilla claimed there was, and continues to be, a fear among workers of being fired or written up for speaking out about payroll issues.

“No worker should feel intimidated by their boss for standing for their rights,” Padilla said.

By Jim Vail

Jim.V@mychinews.com



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