Boston Market restaurants shuttered in New Jersey over unpaid wages are allowed to reopen

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Labor officials in New Jersey have lifted a stop-work order that had temporarily shut down more than two dozen Boston Market restaurants after the owner paid more than $630,000 in back wages to hundreds of workers.

The Department of Labor had issued the stop-work order on Aug. 15 against 27 restaurants across the state after an investigation found multiple violations of workers’ rights. The state also imposed nearly $2.6 million in penalties against the firm.

The order was lifted after the 314 employees received all their back pay, officials announced late Thursday. The company has requested a hearing challenging the state’s findings after the stop-work order was issued, and labor officials said Friday that the fines, penalties and terms for future compliance remain under negotiation.

The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment Friday to Boston Market’s corporate office in Golden, Colorado. There are 31 Boston Market restaurants in New Jersey and 310 nationwide, according to its website.

State officials have said the investigation began in November, when a worker at a restaurant in Mercer County filed a complaint with the labor department. Subsequently, nearly three dozen additional complaints were received naming several Boston Market locations in New Jersey.

The labor department’s initial findings included citations for unpaid or late payment of wages, hindering the investigation, failure to pay minimum wage, records violations and failure to pay earned sick leave.