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August 15, 2023

New Jersey shuts down 27 Boston Market stores due to alleged labor violations

The restaurant chain owes more than $600,000 in back wages to 314 workers, officials said

Investigations Labor
Boston Market NJ Street View/Google Maps

The Boston Market shown above in Mount Holly is one of 27 stores in New Jersey that have been ordered to close due to alleged labor violations.

The New Jersey Department of Labor has ordered 27 Boston Market restaurants to temporarily close because they allegedly owe more than $600,000 in back wages to employees.

The state opened an investigation last November after a Boston Market employee in Hamilton, Mercer County filed a complaint with the labor department over unpaid wages. Nearly three dozen more complaints were submitted in the months that followed by employees at various Boston Market locations.

The allegations range from unpaid wages and late payments to reports that some stores failed to pay minimum wage, did not pay earned sick leave and did not maintain records for earned sick leave, investigators said.

New Jersey's labor department issues orders to halt operations that exploit workers or are otherwise noncompliant with state laws and regulations. Boston Market has appealed the orders and the labor department has seven days to schedule a hearing. 

"With restaurants across the country, Boston Market needs to set a better example for fair treatment of its workers," said Joseph Petrecca, assistant commissioner of the labor department's Division of Wage and Hour and Contract Compliance.

The Boston Market restaurants listed below allegedly owe a combined $607,471 in back wages to 314 workers:

• 491 Ridge Road, North Arlington
• 314 Essex St., Lodi
• 180 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack
• 21-20 Broadway, Fair Lawn
• 321 Broad St., Ridgefield
• 20 Wycoff Ave., Waldwick
• 395 Route 17, Mahwah
• 175 Kinderkamack Road, Emerson
• 275 Livingston St., North Vale
• 471 Central Ave., East Orange
• 247 Route 10 East, Succasunna
• 332 Route 10 West, East Hanover
• 1160 Route 46, Clifton
• 1342 Clifton Ave., Clifton
• 523 Chestnut St. Union
• 770 Route 33, Hamilton
• 1729 N. Olden Ave., Ewing Township
• 300 Rt-18, East Brunswick
• 878 Route 1 North Bound, Edison
• 1560 St. Georges Ave., Avenel
• 4159 Route 9, Howell
• 1103 Broad St., Shrewsbury
• 900 Easton Ave. No. 165, Somerset
• 514 High St., Mt. Holly
• 5716 Blackhorse Pike, Blackwood
• 891 Hurffville Road, Woodbury
• 301 S. Main Road, Vineland

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.

The labor department said Pandya and Boston Chicken of NJ, the parent company of Boston Market, have been been informed of the initial findings of the investigation. The company is headquartered in Golden, Colorado.

In addition to back wages, investigators found the company owes $1.2 million in liquidated damages. Boston Market also has been assessed $2.5 million in administrative fees and penalties.

In Florida, where Boston Market has its largest footprint, a store in Ocala temporarily closed this week and workers there said they had not been paid in weeks. The restaurant's manager and other employees reportedly had been unable to get in touch with the owner, and shut the store down as a result of not being paid, reported. The store had been classified as "delinquent" by the state since June 1. A sign on the door blamed food shortages for the closure.