Massachusetts Pizza Restaurants’ Owners To Pay $330,000 in Back Wages And Liquidated Damages to 150 Employees After Federal Investigation
BOSTON, MA – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and subsequent litigation, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has issued a consent judgment ordering Stavros "Steve" Papantoniadis and Polyxeny "Paulina" Papantoniadis – owners of a chain of eastern Massachusetts-area pizza restaurants – to pay a total of $330,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 150 current and former employees.
The restaurants - Stash's Pizza, Boston Pizza Co., and Weymouth Pizza Co. - and owners must also pay a $20,000 civil money penalty and take other corrective actions to resolve violations of the minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which the Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) identified. The consent judgment and order requires the defendants to comply with the FLSA, cooperate with any future WHD investigations, and provide investigators with truthful responses, information, and documents. It also prohibits the defendants from threatening or taking adverse actions against anyone who participates in and cooperates with an investigation. Such actions include instructing individuals to provide false information or not to speak with investigators, and threatening individuals regarding their immigration or work authorization status.
In addition, the judgment prohibits the defendants from falsifying time records, requesting or requiring employees to work "off the clock;" attempting to recover any of the wages and damages due the workers; and harassing, retaliating, discharging, reducing the work hours, or threatening adverse action against any of the workers due wages and damages.
"The U.S. Department of Labor will rigorously enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act and investigate employers who not only deny workers their wages, but continue to do so while attempting to conceal their actions. Employers who short their workers and impede investigators to gain an unfair economic advantage will not be tolerated," said Wage and Hour Division Boston District Director Carlos Matos.
"This case shows that the U.S. Department of Labor will employ all available legal remedies to enforce the law," said the Department's New England Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher. "If the defendants do not meet the terms of the judgment, they may be subject to additional litigation or legal remedies including contempt of court."
The Department filed suit in March 2017. In February 2018, it obtained an injunction from the court to halt violations that continued to occur after the lawsuit's filing and enjoin the defendants from retaliating against employees and former employees and instructing them to lie to or not speak with WHD investigators. The Department's representatives visited each restaurant and read the injunction in the workers' native languages to ensure they understood the injunction's protections and their right to speak to the Department about workplace conditions.
WHD's Boston District Office conducted the original investigation. Senior Trial Attorneys Scott M. Miller and James Glickman litigated the case for the Department.
The Department provides numerous resources and tools to help employers understand their responsibilities and comply with federal law, such as online videos, confidential calls, or in-person visits to local WHD offices. Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool for workers who may be owed back wages collected by WHD.
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Acosta v. Papantoniadis Pizza Inc., d/b/a Stash's Pizza; Athenian Enterprises Inc. d/b/a Stash's Pizza; Boston Pizza Company LLC; Weymouth Pizza Company, LLC., Stavros "Steve" Papantoniadis; and Polyxeny "Paulina" Papantoniadis.
Civil Action Number: 1:17:-cv-10500-ADB