Domino's Pizza, along with 10 of the company's New York outposts, has been accused of systematically shorting workers on wages, and could be forced to cough up $567,000 in back-pay.
Though the state's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has gone after more than 50 Domino's locations in the last three years, the new lawsuit, filed Tuesday, seeks to pin the labor violations on the parent company for the first time. Schneiderman could be the first attorney general in the country to attempt to hold a national franchisor accountable for the actions of its franchisees, according to the New York Post.
“For the first time, we will prove that the Domino’s parent company is legally responsible for rampant wage theft occurring at its stores,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
The AG's case hinges on "Pulse," a software system Domino's requires each of its stores to use when doling out wages. According to Schneiderman, the software miscalculates the proper amount of payment each employee deserves. The suit also claims that Domino's exerts enough authority over daily operations at the 10 restaurant in question to be considered a "joint employer," often hiring and disciplining their employees.
Over the years, Schneiderman has settled cases against 12 Domino's franchisees and 61 locations, winning a total of $1.5 million. The company has been working with Schneiderman's office for years to help store owners “understand and comply with some of the many complex wage and hour laws that apply to their employment decisions," according to a statement from the company.
Still, Domino's was predictably displeased with the news of the suit.
“We were disappointed to learn that the Attorney General chose to file a lawsuit that disregards the nature of franchising and demeans the role of small business owners instead of focusing on solutions that could have actually helped the individuals those small businesses employ,” a spokesperson said.
Although the attorney general's legal jurisdiction is limited to the New York, he says the case deals with larger issues of "basic human decency."
“At some point, a company has to take responsibility for its actions and for its workers’ well-being. We’ve found rampant wage violations at Domino’s franchise stores. And, as our suit alleges, we’ve discovered that Domino’s headquarters was intensely involved in store operations, and even caused many of these violations,” Schneiderman in a press release. “Under these circumstances, New York law—as well as basic human decency—holds Domino’s responsible for the alleged mistreatment of the workers who make and deliver the company’s pizza. Domino’s can, and must, fix this problem.”