Operations

Federal regulators are investigating Boston Market

The U.S. Department of Labor says it is investigating wage-and-hour complaints against the troubled fast-casual chain.
closed Boston Market
More than two dozen Boston Market restaurants have closed this year. | Photo by Lisa Jennings.

The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating Boston Market amid a wide range of complaints over late and unpaid wages across the country, the agency confirmed on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the agency said that it has “investigations open” into the company but would not provide details, citing the ongoing nature of the inquiries.

But the investigations come amid a host of complaints against the chain from vendors and employees over late or unpaid bills. The company has been sued more than 140 times in various state and federal courts, mostly over unpaid bills, since current ownership took ownership in 2020.

It has also been sued or investigated in multiple states. That included New Jersey, which forced Boston Market to close 27 locations over late and unpaid wages. Those restaurants were later reopened after the company paid employees more than $600,000 in back wages. “Finally,” one employee said at the time.

Boston Market has been subject to numerous lawsuits over unpaid bills and wages, most notably from US Foods, which says the chain owed it $11 million. Boston Market has yet to respond to that lawsuit, which was filed in July.

At least two dozen locations, and likely more, have closed this year, largely as they were evicted by landlords over unpaid rent. In the past three weeks, a restaurant in Danbury, Conn., was closed after a landlord evicted the company, another one closed in Montgomery County, Md., and state health inspectors in Florida closed a location in Miami-Dade after it failed four inspections.

(For more, check out The Demise of Boston Market.)

An arbitrator earlier this month awarded $2 million to Feesers Inc., a food distribution company, over unpaid bills and other charges, according to court filings.

It is one of at least three food distributors, also including Ben E. Keith Co., which have sued Boston Market over unpaid bills.

But the focus at the Labor department is wages, and Boston Market has been sued in multiple states and has been subject to multiple state-level investigations over late or unpaid wages. Lawsuits have been filed in California, Arizona and Massachusetts. Regulators in New York and California are also investigating complaints in those states.

The company has long argued in interviews that it has paid employees or said that all the locations were licensed, though it has not named the licensees. Owner Jay Pandya has also said that the unpaid workers were employed at locations that were closed.

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