Jail Time for Overtime Violations Sends Message: New York Is Serious About Wage Theft

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

November 17, 2015

The owner of a chain of Papa John's franchises in New York City who failed to pay overtime to his employees has been sentenced to 60 days in jail.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's announcement about the conviction sends a clear message to employers that he intends to prosecute wage theft to the fullest extent possible.

Much like Al Capone was sentenced to jail for tax evasion instead of bootlegging or murder, pizza store owner Abdul Jamil Khokhar was sentenced to jail not for his failure to pay wages under the New York labor law (which is a misdemeanor) but rather for falsifying business records (which is a felony under New York's penal code).

Nevertheless, Schneiderman's statement focuses more on wage theft than on proper bookkeeping: "Wage theft is a crime and a Papa John's franchisee is now going to jail for cheating his employees and trying to cover it up. My office will do everything in its power to protect the rights of New York's workers and make sure that all employers - including fast food restaurants - follow the law."

The US Department of Labor (DOL), and several state labor agencies, including California's and the District of Columbia's, also have made wage theft an enforcement priority. The New York Attorney General's office worked directly with the DOL on the Khokhar case, press assistant Doug Cohen said in an email to XpertHR.