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New Jersey closes 27 Boston Markets after finding 'violations of workers’ rights,’ $600K in wages owed

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has issued stop-work orders at more than two dozen Boston Market locations in the state over alleged violations.

New Jersey has issued stop-work orders at 27 Boston Market restaurant locations across the state after labor officials say they found "multiple violations of workers’ rights, including more than $600,000 in back wages owed to 314 workers." 

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) said it started investigating the restaurant chain known for its rotisserie chicken after receiving a complaint last November from an employee working at a location in Mercer County, 

"Since then, nearly three dozen additional complaints have been received naming several New Jersey Boston Market locations. Initial findings included citations for: unpaid/late payment of wages, hindrance of the investigation, failure to pay minimum wage, records violations, failure to pay earned sick leave, and failure to maintain records for earned sick leave," the agency said in a statement. 

The temporarily closed restaurants are in Avenel, Blackwood, Clifton, East Brunswick, East Hanover, East Orange, Edison, Emerson, Ewing Township, Fair Lawn, Hackensack, Hamilton, Howell, Lodi, Mahwah, Mount Holly, North Arlington, North Vale, Ridgefield, Shrewsbury, Somerset, Succasunna, Union, Vineland, Waldwick and Woodbury. 

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Boston Market did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment from FOX Business. 

"With restaurants across the country, Boston Market needs to set a better example for fair treatment of its workers," Joseph Petrecca, assistant commissioner of NJDOL’s Division of Wage and Hour and Contract Compliance, said in a statement. "Thanks to the Murphy Administration, NJDOL has the tools to carry out large-scale enforcement efforts within the state so we can work with employers to stop worker exploitation, create sustainable change, and prevent future violations." 

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Findings of the investigation have been sent to Boston Chicken of NJ, LLC, which the state says is the restaurant chain’s parent company. 

The NJDOL says its investigators have found "$607,471 in back wages owed to 314 workers, as well as $1,214,942 in liquidated damages. 

"Boston Chicken of NJ was also assessed an administrative fee of $182,241.30 and $549,500 in administrative penalties, for a total of $2,554,154.30," it added. 

The state says Boston Market has requested a hearing to appeal the stop-work orders. 

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"NJDOL continues to monitor locations where stop-work orders have been issued, and can assess civil penalties of $5,000 per day against an employer conducting business in violation of the order," labor officials also said. "The stop-work order may be lifted if and when any remaining back wages and penalties have been paid and all related issues have been resolved." 

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