September 15, 2023
Boston Market can reopen 27 New Jersey stores that were shut down by the state's labor department last month for failing to pay nearly $630,000 in employee wages, officials said Friday.
Workers at the stores — including those in Mount Holly, Blackwood and Vineland — have been paid back what they were owed after the labor department issued stop-work orders at each of the affected locations. The businesses were forced to close Aug. 15 following an investigation that began last November.
Last year, a manager at a Boston Market in Hamilton Township, Mercer County filed a complaint with the labor department stating that she and 12 other employees had not been paid in more than two months. Employees at other locations then reported the same problem as the investigation unfolded.
Despite not getting paid, many workers at these Boston Market stores continued to report to their jobs, officials said. A total of 314 workers received their unpaid wages as part of the resolution. The manager at the Hamilton Township store said her employees received more than $15,000 in back wages.
The investigation found "a pervasive pattern" of the company failing to pay its employees in New Jersey. Investigators also found the company owed $1.2 million in liquidated damages. Boston Market has been assessed $2.5 million in administrative fees and penalties.
New Jersey's labor department issues orders to halt operations that exploit workers or are otherwise noncompliant with state laws and regulations. Boston Market had appealed the stop-work orders, but could not get them lifted until all of the back wages had been paid.
Investigators also found that the chain had not paid minimum wage in some instances and failed to maintain proper records, including tracking earned sick leave.
Boston Market has about 310 stores in 28 states. The company was established as Boston Chicken in 1984 before it changed its name in 1995 to reflect an expanded menu. At its peak, it had more than 1,200 stores.
The chain most recently was purchased in 2020 by Engage Brands, a company based in Newtown Township, Bucks County and owned by CEO Jignesh Pandya. Boston Market previously was owned by Florida-based Sun Capital Partners, which purchased the chain from McDonald's in 2017.