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Amherst pizza shop owner fined for underpaying

The owner of the Domino’s Pizza franchise on Sheridan Drive in Amherst has agreed to pay $40,000 as part of a settlement with the state Attorney General’s office for underpaying minimum wage employees.

Maha Zaatreh and Khaled Handan, the owner and manager of the Domino’s franchise at 3563 Sheridan Drive, agreed to the settlement as part of a broader deal between the Attorney General’s office and six Domino’s franchise operators who run 23 pizzerias throughout the state.

Zaatreh, the franchise operator, and Handan, the store manager, have owned and operated the Domino’s franchise since 2008 through Maha Inc. The attorney general alleged that, from at least July 2009 through July 2012, employees were paid less than the minimum wage that was in place at the time for workers who receive tips and failed to adequately reimburse employees who were required to use their own vehicles to make deliveries.

The complaint alleged that Maha paid many of its delivery workers $4.75 per hour from July 2009 through January 2011, at a time when the minimum wage for those workers was $4.90 per hour. Employees working overtime were paid $7.50 per hour, when the proper rate was $9.28 per hour.

The attorney general also said Maha violated a state requirement that restaurant workers be paid for at least three hours of work, even when they are sent home early from their longer scheduled shift because business is slow or other reasons. The business also failed to pay workers whose daily shift exceeded 10 hours the extra hour of minimum wage pay required by state law.

Maha reimbursed its delivery workers at a flat rate of 75 cents per delivery, which violated a state requirement that employees who were required to use their own vehicles be adequately reimbursed for their job-related vehicle expenses. The Domino’s franchise did not consider how many miles a delivery worker drove, the attorney general’s office said.

The franchise also was cited for not documenting how much time workers receiving the lower minimum wage for tipped employees actually spent doing non-tipped work. Employers can’t pay the lower minimum wage for tipped workers if they spend more than 20 percent of their shift doing non-tipped tasks.

In all, Domino’s franchise operators across the state agreed to pay $448,000 in the settlement, which mostly involved pizzerias downstate. The settlement included franchises in New York City, along with Dutchess, Nassau, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk and Westchester counties. The settlement money will be distributed between about 750 minimum wage workers, who will receive payments ranging from $200 to $2,000.