Pizza restaurant owners settle lawsuit filed by labor department
Desmond and Kelly Willey agreed to pay $30,000 in back wages and damages to 32 employees following an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, the DOL announced on Sept. 17.
“The defendants would pay them at their regular hourly rate of pay rather than one-and-a-half times that rate as required by law,” according to Daniel Cronin, the division’s assistant district director for Northern New England. “For some restaurant employees, as much as half their weekly wages were paid off the books, and the defendants did not maintain records of the payments,” he said.
Kelly Willey said the $30,000 settlement covers a three-year period from 2008 to 2010. “We believe the real amount owed to be about half of that,” she said, “but we agreed to settle out of court to avoid the immense cost.”
“In 2007 my wife and I purchased Ramunto’s as a failing business,” wrote Desmond Willey. “We confronted many problems in a reorganizational process, including this issue which stemmed from past managers paying select employees (not everyone) under the table.”
“To put it all in perspective, this was a very small amount in the overall scheme of things,” he wrote. “Our payroll for that three-year period was about $1.8 million. ... It has always been our personal and business ethic to abide by the law, and we will continue to take steps ensuring this.”
“When we began seeing some issues with finances, we hired a financial manager and that’s when things started coming out of the woodwork,” she said. “Clearly, we own the business, so whatever happens, ultimately the owner is responsible.”