Pizzeria Pays Over $7,000 to Violated Workers

Today was a big day for workers’ rights in Tompkins County as we publicly, in coordination with the NY State Attorney General, the Latino Civic Association, and three Cornell student groups, announced a settlement being reached with Collegetown Pizza. Thanks to all those who’ve helped and supported us in this important case! Below are the Press Releases from the Workers’ Rights Center; the Attorney General Eliot Spitzer; and three student groups at Cornell (Latina/o Graduate Student Coalition (LGSC), La Asociacion Latina (LAL), and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan (MEChA).

In solidarity,

Pizzeria Pays Over $7,000 to Violated Workers

The New York State Attorney General has reached a settlement with College Town Pizza, located at 401 College Avenue, following an investigation initiated by the Tompkins County Workers’ Rights Center. At least three kitchen and delivery workers will receive over $7,000 in back wages, resulting from the failure of the pizzeria to obey minimum wage and overtime laws.

In addition to the wage payments, College Town Pizza has agreed to obey all applicable laws, including furnishing each employee with a wage statement with each payment of wages and posting a bilingual notice advising workers of their rights. The restaurant agrees to provide at least four days of sick and vacation leave time to all full-time workers who have worked at least one year; and to provide a complete set of payroll and time records periodically to the Attorney General. It has also agreed to allow unannounced compliance visits to ensure compliance.

“This is a great victory for all workers in Tompkins County, and particularly for immigrant workers,” stated Pete Meyers, Workers’ Rights Center organizer. “Following closely on the Kinko’s conviction, this shows employers that workers are more vigilant and more aware of their rights. We will not tolerate workplace abuse.” In particular we are proceeding with plans to develop, in collaboration with the Latino Civic Association, an Immigrant Worker Rights Project and to initiate discussions with Cornell University about developing a worker rights compact for all its contractors.

The settlement in the pizza case was the work of a coalition of local groups including the Workers’ Rights Center, the Latino Civic Association, a number of Cornell student groups and others. Says Carlos Gutierrez, President of the Latino Civic Association, “The Latino Civic Association (LCA) of Tompkins County is satisfied by the settlement reached with Collegetown Pizza. We thank the State Office of the Attorney General for their effective help in this matter. The LCA is highly committed to working with the immigrant community to assure that they are fairly treated in their workplace, and that the business community treats them with dignity by paying them according to law.”

After workers approached the Workers’ Rights Center in the summer of 2003, the employer was contacted to provide restitution but refused. The Attorney General then commenced an investigation resulting in the settlement we are pleased to announce today. We particularly want to thank Assistant Attorney General Deborah Baumgarten for actively and effectively pursuing this investigation, resulting in an excellent settlement.

Any worker in Tompkins County who feels he or she is treated unfairly in their workplace can contact the Workers’ Rights Center at 269-0409 or TCWRC@yahoo.com. Any former College Town Pizza employee who feels they were underpaid for their hours worked should contact the Workers’ Rights Center or Deborah Baumgarten, Assistant Attorney-General, 212/416-8714.


Immigrant workers to receive minimum wage and overtime payments

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today announced that he has settled an investigation with College Town Pizza, Inc., located at 401 College Avenue in Ithaca, for its failure to pay immigrant kitchen and delivery workers the minimum wage and overtime pay.

The investigation found that between 2001 and 2003 College Town paid several immigrant kitchen and delivery workers sub-minimum wages with no overtime pay. Employees worked for up to 75 hours per week with wages as low as $300.00 per week when State labor laws required wages of at least $476.00. In some instances, the employer used employment agencies that cater to immigrants to bring workers from New York City to Ithaca. Workers were promised fair wages and free housing. Such employees did not receive legal wages and were, for a period of time, housed in the restaurant’s basement.

“My office has found that immigrant workers are frequent targets of exploitation. That exploitation not only hurts those workers, it drags down labor standards for all New Yorkers. Immigrants are working throughout New York State and my office is committed to enforcing labor laws in Tompkins County and across the state,” Spitzer said.

Under the terms of the settlement, Khalid Attia, the owner, will pay $7,230.00 in restitution for College Town Pizza employees. Also, the restaurant will be subject to monitoring and for the first time will provide paid sick and personal days to employees with over one year’s work history.

In recent years the Attorney General’s office has aggressively enforced the labor laws on behalf of immigrant workers, collecting over 6 million dollars on behalf of immigrant supermarket delivery persons in New York City and entering into a Code of Conduct on behalf of immigrant workers in the New York City greengrocer industry. More recently, with the assistance of workers’ centers like the Tompkins County Workers’ Rights Center and the Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County, the office has opened numerous investigation into the conditions of immigrant workers in Central New York.

“I have been very pleased, though hardly surprised, to see Attorney General Eliot Spitzer respond to the concerns about the treatment of workers in this case, investigating the allegations, and enforcing our state labor laws. I also applaud the on-going work of the Tompkins County Workers’ Rights Center as a resource and strong advocate for local workers, as well as the successful efforts here of the Latino Civic Association,” said Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton.

“The Latino Civic Association (LCA) of Tompkins County is satisfied by the settlement reached with College Town Pizzeria,” stated LCA President Carlos Gutierrez. “We will continue to work with the immigrant community, the Workers’ Rights Center and the Attorney General’s office to assure that immigrant workers are fairly treated in their workplace, and that the business community treats them with dignity by paying them according to law, especially when it comes to overtime work and minimum wage issues,” said Carlos Gutierrez, President of the Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County.

To report labor law violations or to learn about your rights as a worker and your obligations as an employer, please contact the New York State Attorney General’s helpline at 1-800-771-7755 or visit our website at: www.oag.state.ny.us.

The case was handled Labor Bureau Assistant Attorney General Deborah M. Baumgarten under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jennifer Brand.


The Latina/o Graduate Student Coalition (LGSC), La Asociacion Latina (LAL), and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan (MEChA) at Cornell University welcome the settlement reached between the New York State Attorney General’s office and Collegetown Pizzeria.

We are proud to have been part of this coalition of community-based labor, religious, and civic organizations – that has insured that workers in our community are treated with dignity and respect. This coalition has spoken clearly: (i) that the types of business practices used by the Collegetown Pizzeria will not be tolerated in our community, (ii) that these types of labor law violations will not go unpunished, and (iii) that we affirm our commitment to the rights of all workers in Ithaca, women and men, immigrants and citizens, documented and undocumented.

Just as we have struggled in the past to make Cornell a more diverse and open institution, so too will LAL, MEChA and the LGSC continue to take a proactive and preventative role in assuring that Ithaca businesses exhibit the values of fairness and equality that are important to us.

We hope that this announcement today will raise awareness about the situation of immigrant workers in Ithaca and throughout the United States.

Press Contact:
Michael Casaus (Chair, LGSC): mbc11@cornell.edu (607) 339-6925
Daisy Torres (LAL): dt69@cornell.edu
Leonor Lara (MEChA): lml24@cornell.edu (915) 204-0755