AG Probes Alleged Fast Food Wage Thefts

Fast food employees rallying for higher wages. (Photo credit: Fast Food Forward Facebook Page)
Fast food employees rallying for higher wages. (Photo credit: Fast Food Forward Facebook Page)

The New York Attorney General’s office confirmed Thursday that it is investigating fast-food restaurant worker complaints of wage thefts and has subpoenaed at least one parent corporation.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigators are looking into several labor rights violations, including nonpayment of overtime, bounced paychecks and false payroll records, among other violations, according to his office.

The AG’s probe comes on the same day that Fast Food Forward released a report suggesting pervasive wage abuse within the fast food restaurant industry. The study found that 84 percent of employees said they were victims of wage theft in the last year.

“The findings in this report are deeply troubling and shed light on potentially broad labor violations by the fast food industry, which employs thousands of New Yorkers,” Damien LaVera, Schneiderman’s spokesperson, said in a statement. “New Yorkers expect companies doing business in our state to follow laws set up to protect working families.”

A source said the state has been looking into these complaints for more than a year.

“I work almost 80 hours a week usually, but [Kentucky Fried Chicken] doesn’t pay me overtime,” a KFC employee said in the report, according to MSNBC. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s what I have to do to make ends meet. I make $8.45 an hour, so this adds up to $170 in overtime pay that I don’t get.”

Schneiderman’s office declined to identify the franchises involved in the probe, nor did it identify the parent company that has been subpoenaed as part of the investigation.

Schneiderman is also reviewing whether fast food eateries failed to sufficiently reimburse employees for work-related expenses, such as delivery costs or uniforms and work that was completed while the employee wasn’t on the clock, according to his office.

Employees who believe they were the victims of similar violations can contact the Labor Bureau at 212-416-6132 or download the “Fast Food Worker Complaint Form” from the AG’s website.