Mystic Pizza employees will get their share of $105,000 in back pay after the owner failed to compensate.
The restaurant where the employees work at was made famous by a 1988 movie starring Julia Roberts. The Department of Labor began investigating John Zelepos after three people filed individual complaints. Zelepos was paying his staff as little as $5.69 per hour. Minimum wage for a 40-hour work week in Connecticut is $8.40, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The department’s Wage and Workplace Standards Division learned that 110 Mystic Pizza employees received less than minimum wage and were not paid properly for their overtime work between May 2012 and June 2014, according to the DOL.
Zelepos paid cooks, dishwashers and hosts as little as $5.69 per hour, the DOL said. Other workers received $7.40 per hour. At the time, the state’s minimum wage was set at $8.70.
Some employees also worked up to 93 hours per week. Many were paid cash, and Zelepos did not accurately document their overtime hours, according to the DOL.
According to Wage and Workplace Standards Director Gary K. Pechie, the department is also investigating the report that one employee was fired after contacting the DOL to report wage violations.
Resa Spaziani, supervisor of the Labor Department’s Wage and Workplace Standards Division, said:
“It’s always surprising to us when a business so well known thinks it can violate wage laws and that no one will complain.”
Wage and Workplace Standards director Gary K. Pechie said:
“While there are many employers in our state paying their employees the proper wages, unfortunately, we find situations similar to this far too often … Every employee deserves to be paid the required amount for the work that they do, and this is a flagrant example of an employer taking advantage of their workforce. We encourage any individual who believes they have not been paid properly for hours worked to file a complaint with the Labor Department.”
It was not the first time Mystic Pizza owners had run afoul of government regulators. In 2012, the Internal Revenue Service seized $63,084.49 from the Chelsea Groton Bank account of John Zelepos, George Zelepos, and Christos Zelepos, according to The Day newspaper.
Zelepos must pay the affected Mystic Pizza employees a total of $105,165.94 and is also required to pay $23,400 in civil penalties for 155 minimum wage and overtime violations.