Fast Food

Papa John's franchisee gets jail time for illegally taking employee wages

FILE: People leave a Papa John's store with pizzas they purchased for 23 cents in Medina Ohio

FILE: People leave a Papa John's store with pizzas they purchased for 23 cents in Medina Ohio  (Reuters)

In a rare move, the New York Attorney General is giving a Papa John’s franchisee jail time after being charged earlier this year with not paying workers minimum wage and with falsifying documents.

Abdul Jamil Khokhar, who owns nine Papa John’s locations in New York City with BMY Foods, pled guilty to failing to pay workers in compliance with the New York Labor Law, which is a misdemeanor, and to filing false business records, a felony.

He will serve 60 days in jail for failing to pay his workers the minimum wage and overtime and has agreed to pay $230,000 in restitution to the workers.

"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," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement Monday.  "My office will do everything in its power to protect the rights of New York's workers and make sure that all employers -- including fast food restaurants -- follow the law."

Instead of paying his employees the proper minimum overtime wages according to New York State law, Khokhar paid them the same minimum wage they would make during regular hours.

To hide this illegal practice, he created fake names for employees in the computer system and used the fake names to avoid paying the time-and-a-half rate required for overtime. So an employee who worked for more than 40 hours would be paid for regular work hours under his or her own name, and any overtime hours would be paid as straight hours to a fictitious employee.

This affected the wages of over 300 current and former employees, according to the Attorney General.

As part of a separate settlement with the Labor Department in July, Khokhar had already agreed to pay another $230,000 in damages and $50,000 in civil penalties. Under that agreement, the Papa John's locations involved will have to open up their books to independent auditing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.