NEW JERSEY -- New Jersey ordered more than two dozen Boston Market locations to close Tuesday because regulators found "multiple violations of workers' rights," including failure to pay wages, and fined the restaurant chain nearly $2.6 million.
In a release, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development said it issued 27 "stop-work" orders to Boston Markets across the state because the agency found more than $600,000 in back pay owed to 314 workers and $1.2 million in liquidated damages.
The nine-month long investigation followed complaints from at least three dozen Boston Market employees that the company failed to pay minimum wage, to pay earned sick leave and to maintain records for earned sick leave.
"With restaurants across the country, Boston Market needs to set a better example for fair treatment of its workers," said Joseph Petrecca, assistant commissioner of NJDOL's Division of Wage and Hour and Contract Compliance, in the statement. A full list of locations are available on NJDOL's website.
The privately owed chain was also slapped with an additional $1.2 million in liquidated damages and $570,000 in administrative fees and penalties.
Boston Market didn't immediately respond for comment.
NJDOL said it's monitoring the locations where the stop-work orders are and the chain could be fined an additional $5,000 per day if they reopen. The order could be "lifted if and when any remaining back wages and penalties have been paid and all related issues have been resolved," the agency said.
Boston Market has struggled since it was acquired three years ago by Engage Brands, part of the Rohan Group of Companies.
The chicken chain is dealing with is a $12 million lawsuit from food distributor US Foods alleging that Boston Market owes it $11 million in unpaid bills from the past two years. That's on top of other lawsuits from landlords and more back pay issues in Arizona and Massachusetts.
Boston Market had more than 1,000 locations across the United States just a few years ago. That has shrunk dramatically, and it's now down to just about 300.
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