Former Dunkin’ Donuts employees say management at a Dunkin’ franchise business changed their timesheets, denied them overtime wages and illegally took money from their paychecks to cover register shortages.
The workers, Christina Padilla and Jessica Zamudio, leveled the accusations in a class action complaint filed May 4 in federal court in Chicago. Named defendants are three corporations that operated Chicago Dunkin’ Donuts franchises — Ruby Foods, which operates the 229 W. Jackson St. store; Standard Foods, at 62 E. Jackson St.; and Moonstone Foods, at 600 S. Wabash Ave. — as well as Siraujudden Virani, who the complaint said owns 16 Dunkin’ Donuts locations, and Faisal Merchant, who the complaint said processes payroll for the 16 stores.
Padilla worked for Moonstone from December 2013 to May 2014, earning $8.75 per hour, and for Ruby from May 2014 to August 2015. At Ruby, she started at $8.75, but from March to August 2015 she earned $10-$10.25 per hour. Zamudio worked for Standard from June 2015 to January 2016, earning between $9 and $10.25 per hour over that period.
The complaint alleged the women, and other workers, often worked before or after their scheduled shift, and in such instances “Merchant frequently deducted time from their recorded work hours. Merchant instructed managers to change the clock-in-time and clock-out-time records in the store’s computer database to make it appear as though plaintiffs worked fewer hours than they actually did.”
Further, the Dunkin’ franchise operations were accused of routinely making wage deductions for shortages in cash register drawers. Such deductions were listed on paychecks under a line item for “cash advance repayment,” an arrangement none of the workers approved with written authorization, according to the lawsuit.
While Merchant directly influenced worker income through payroll processing, “Vasani was aware that Merchant made deductions from workers’ wages for cash register shortages without their written authorization, but he did nothing to stop the practice,” the complaint maintained. “Vasani also was aware that Merchant deducted time from workers’ clock-in times and clock-out times, but he did nothing to stop the practice.”
By removing worked hours from the time sheet, the workers say they were not credited with exceeding 40 hours per week and earning time and a half, per the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The unauthorized deductions brought earnings below the amount mandated in the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, the complaint said.
The plaintiffs asked the court to approve several plaintiffs’ classes, including ones to sue under the FLSA’s overtime provisions, the Illinois minimum wage law, the Chicago Minimum Wage Ordinance, and the Illinois Wage Protection and Collection Act, each with its own eligibility window based on employment dates. The Chicago ordinance allegations reflected the city’s $10 minimum wage that went into effect July 1, 2015.
In addition to class certification and a jury trial, Padilla and Zamudio asked the court to award all unpaid overtime wages, as well as applicable liquidated damages, attorney fees, with pre- and post-judgment interest. The alleged IMWL overtime violations carry a statutory penalty of 2 percent of all unpaid wages for each month they remain delinquent.
Representing the plaintiffs are attorneys Christopher J. Wilmes and Matthew J. Piers, of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, of Chicago; and Lam Nguyen Ho, of Community Activism Law Alliance, Chicago.