Two former employees of Jimmy John’s, the “freaky fast” sandwich shop found throughout American cities and college towns, are suing the fast food chain for “systematic wage theft.” In their lawsuit filed Friday in federal court, Karolis Kubelskas and Emily Brunner describe incidents of repeatedly being forced to work off the clock on account of low payroll budgets allocated to individual Jimmy John’s stores, which caused systematic minimum wage and overtime violations.
Attorneys for the fast food chain have not released any statements thus far in response to the Jimmy John’s wage theft charges.
According to the worker allegations, Jimmy John’s has “intentionally and repeatedly misrepresented the true time worked by their hourly employees” so they could cut costs evade overtime laws. The complaint has been filed as a class action lawsuit with Kubelskas and Brunner maintaining that such pay practices proceed from “corporate set policies” that broadly apply to other Jimmy John’s workers.
Kubelskas and Brunner, also maintain that Jimmy John’s workers do not have sufficient time to complete all their tasks at closing time each day, when managers will clock out employees regardless of whether they are still working. The practice is made worse by a company policy that pins manager bonuses to their ability to hit pre-set targets on labor costs.
Such a system, according to the lawsuit, “has the practical effect of creating widespread wage theft.”
Brunner and Kubelskas are being represented by employment and wage violation attorneys at the Chicago firm Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil.
Perhaps the wage violations are simply in line with the fact that Jimmy John’s doesn’t like to “follow the rules.” Founded in 1983, the company has built its foundation on its “irreverent attitude and dirt-cheap prices” according to the company’s website. Today the sandwich chain has over than 1,900 locations throughout the country, and was repeatedly highlighted as an entrepreneurial success story by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign.
Jimmy John’s also extends this characterization to their employees; according to the company’s website, “They don’t mind doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Their hustle is part of how they live their daily lives, and they enjoy the fruits of a hard-earned entrepreneurial lifestyle.”
The current class action lawsuit isn’t the first one Jimmy John’s has faced from its workers. Last fall, more than 300 delivery drivers sued a major Jimmy John’s franchise operator when the vehicle expenses they had to personally cover pushed their take-home earnings below the minimum wage.
And then in 2011, ten different Jimmy John’s locations became the target of large labor organizing campaign led by Industrial Workers of the World, the initiators of the ever-growing effort to unionize fast food workers. The union just barely lost the election, and half a dozen workers claimed they were fired on account of their union support. In 2012, a judge sided with the workers.