Low-Income Workers File Federal Lawsuit Seeking Wages Illegally Held by Domino's Pizza Owner And Operator

Six workers filed a federal class action complaint today against Dave Melton, the owner and operator of four Domino's Pizza operations, and other defendants, charging that they violated federal and state labor laws. The complaint charges that Melton did not pay the workers for all hours they worked. Instead the workers were made to work off the clock and their employer deliberately shaved time from their time records. In addition, the complaint charges that Melton illegally used a reduced "tipped wage" to pay them as little as $4.60 an hour--less than the minimum wage rate--even though a significant amount of their work does not generate tips.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges that the defendants have violated federal and state labor laws. The plaintiffs are seeking unpaid wages, as well as compensatory damages for having been fired or having their hours cut in retaliation for their complaining about the illegal practices.

The Legal Aid Society is representing the plaintiffs with the law firm of Shearman & Sterling LLP as pro bono counsel. The National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS) brought the workers to The Legal Aid Society's Employment Law Unit for assistance. The workers are members of the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS) which organizes workers of all industries including garment, restaurant, construction, nail salons and offices, to stand up for their rights where they work and live.

"We often worked 60 hours a week but Domino's would rob us of as many as 15 hours of pay every week," Carlos Rodriguez, one of the plaintiffs, said. Rodriguez, who worked for Domino's for two years, added that, "they would pay us only $4.60 an hour even though we were doing a lot of work besides delivery, such as cleaning and prep work. Domino's is able to be such a rich, successful company with 9,000 stores because it robs its workers. Shouldn't the larger company take responsibility for these conditions too? We call on all other Domino's workers to join us in standing up to these kinds of abuses."

Richard Blum, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, said "Dave Melton has written a book called Hire the American Dream, promoting his franchise operation as the path toward success for his employees. As it turns out, the American dream he provides is for himself, and comes at the expense of his workers."

Current and former employees at Dave Melton's four franchise locations can call The Legal Aid Society at 212-577-3561 or NMASS at 212-358-0295 for further information. The four locations are at the following addresses: 200 E. 89th Street, New York, NY (cross-street Third Avenue), 464 Third Avenue, New York, NY (cross-street E. 32nd Street), 1396 First Ave. (cross-street 74th St.), and 592 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY (cross-street 89th Street).

Lawyers representing the clients include Karen Cacace, Richard E. Blum and Hollis V. Pfitsch of The Legal Aid Society's Employment Law Project and Adam S. Hakki, John A. Nathanson, Jaclyn A. Barnao and Darren Ishmael of Shearman & Sterling LLP.

View the complaint (PDF)

Noticiero 47 a las 6
WNJU (TEL) New York
September 16th 2010 6:00-6:30 PM

Jorge Ramos: A group of Hispanic workers announces a labor exploitation lawsuit against the owner of a Domino’s Pizza franchise in Manhattan. Liz Gonzalez brings us both sides of the coin in this story.

Liz Gonzalez: Hispanic Workers from four Domino’s Pizza locations in Manhattan protested in front of the establishment at 89th street and 3rd avenue; they say the owner does not pay them for all the hours they work.

Hector Hernandez: They hire you just to make deliveries, but once inside they make you work more than 10 hours a day, paying you for 8 hours and sometimes less.

Liz Gonzalez: And you’re not afraid to lose your job talking today?

Hector Hernandez: No, what I want is justice; I don’t care about anything else. I want justice and to be paid what they owe us.

Liz Gonzalez: The immigrants are represented by lawyers from The Legal Aid Society, who established a collective lawsuit against the owner David Melton.

Hollis Pfitsch: Very clear violations of the labor laws, both federal and state.

Liz Gonzalez: And the law protects all workers even if they’re undocumented?

Hollis Pfitsch: Yes, fortunately the law protects all workers equally.

Liz Gonzalez: According to the lawsuit, the supervisors of this pizzeria didn’t allow the workers to take any breaks through the work day and alleges that some of the workers who complained against these practices were fired or their hours reduced. The owner David Melton came outside and stared down his ex-employees.

David Melton: It’s not true; I’m very disappointed because we treat are people well here.

Liz Gonzalez: The protestors are asking that the owner of the stores pays them the hours they’re due. The lawyers ask that any other workers who have been affected join the lawsuit. A spokesperson for Domino’s Corp. said the following: “Dave Melton is a well respected franchise owner who has operated in Manhattan for over 20 years. He was celebrated for the way he treats his employees, which was documented in the newspaper “The New York Times” in February 2008 for employee loyalty. We know he was surprised by this because no employee ever complained to him, nor to his supervisors”. The workers say this is not true. From Manhattan, Liz Gonzalez, Noticiero 47 Telemundo.

Noticias Univision 41 a las 6
WXTV (UNI) New York
September 16th 2010 6:00-6:30 PM

Rafael Pineda: Denouncing mistreatment and lack of pay, a group of Latin workers has filed a lawsuit against a well known restaurant chain; our colleague Alex Roland tells us why.

Alex Roland: They protest in front of a Domino’s Pizza on 3rd Avenue and 89th street in Manhattan. They’re ex-workers of the pizzeria who say they were victims of abuse and labor mistreatment.

Carlos Herrera: They hired us to make deliveries, but once inside they had us do several things, clean and cut pizzas.

Juan Hernandez: I want them to pay us what they owe us because there were days when we worked more than 60 hours a week.

Alex Roland: They want the abuse to stop; that’s why 6 of the workers established a lawsuit against the owner of this Domino’s franchise, who was surprised to see the protestors in front of his business with signs carrying his name demanding justice.

David Melton: It’s not true, and I’m very upset. I’m very disappointed because I’ve been running this business for 20 years and I have fantastic people working here.

Alex Roland: That’s what the owner said, who didn’t comment on the lawsuit these workers filed for state and federal violations against the labor code.

Hollis Pfitsch: They weren’t paid overtime for the hours that surpassed 40. They’re required to wear uniforms and use bicycles, but they’re not reimbursed for any repairs.

Alex Roland: With the lawsuit they also look to recover close to $200,000 for irregular pay in their salaries. The National Mobilization of Workers is asking any other workers of this pizza chain to contact them if they’re victims of this same type of abuse, at 212-358-0295. From Manhattan, I’m Alex Roland, Noticias Univision 41.