Five current and former Domino's pizza franchisees with 35 stores across New York State, including several locations on Long Island, will pay $970,000 in restitution to settle charges by state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman that they underpaid workers.
Four current franchisees with 29 stores, as well as one former franchisee who owned six, admitted to violating overtime and minimum-wage laws, including failing to pay overtime, not fully reimbursing delivery workers for all their delivery expenses and paying delivery workers below the tipped minimum wage, the attorney general's office said.
"Franchisers routinely visit franchise stores to monitor operations -- down to the number of pepperonis on each pizza -- to protect their brand, and yet they turn a blind eye to illegal working conditions," Schneiderman said in a statement. "My message for Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle is this: To protect the Domino's brand, protect the basic rights of the people who wear the Domino's uniform, who make and deliver your pizzas."
The biggest violator was franchise owner Robert Cookston, who has 18 locations, including stores in Uniondale, Roslyn Heights, Bellmore, New Hyde Park, Riverhead and Mastic. Cookston agreed to pay $675,000 to settle the charges against him. Cookston also agreed to pay for independent monitoring of all of his stores for three years.
Cookston, whose Washington Heights store was the subject of a separate investigation for retaliatory discharge, declined to comment. A spokesman for Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Domino's Pizza Inc., did not respond to requests for comment.
Last year, six Domino's franchisees in the state with 23 locations, about half of which were on Long Island, settled similar charges, paying $448,000. In an additional settlement last year, franchisee Abdil Karaborklu paid $40,000 to resolve a case involving his three previously owned stores in Farmingdale, Miller Place and Smithtown. Karaborklu could not be reached for comment. Some of the stores investigated have changed hands.
As part of the settlements, the franchisees must also institute complaint procedures, provide written handbooks to employees, train supervisors on labor law, post a statement of employees' rights, and submit quarterly reports for three years to the attorney general's office regarding compliance.
As of last year, there were 130 total Domino's franchise locations statewide, according to the attorney general's office.