Labor

Mark Wahlberg's Burger Chain Is Being Sued For Unpaid Wages

The legal action targets Wahlburgers' Coney Island franchise.

The burger chain run by actor Mark Wahlberg and his family is being sued by five employees who say the company committed wage theft.

Wahlburgers, which is featured in an A&E reality series of the same name, opened its Coney Island franchise in September of 2015. According to the lawsuit, Wahlburgers "maintained a pattern and practice of regularly shaving compensable time from the weekly hours of all its non-exempt employees, including servers, bartenders, bussers and kitchen staff, and paying them significantly fewer hours than they actually worked."

The suit also alleges that workers were not paid for overtime, or mandatory meetings, and that employee tips were regularly kept by the store.

Wahlburgers was founded in 2011 by actors Mark and Donnie Wahlberg and their brother Paul. The legal filing claims that the brothers were aware of the problems at the Coney Island location. The plaintiffs allegedly complained to Paul, who runs the day-to-day operations of the company, but no changes were made. They also claim to have informed Donnie of Coney Island's issues after a company party. They say he acknowledged the fact he knew about the situation, but nothing was done.

The Wahlburgers website espouses a commitment to working class values. "We are a working class organization, rooted at our family’s kitchen table where the only star is the food and the music is laughter and stories," it says, "We embrace loyalty, gratitude, excellence and community, sharing these values in our restaurants everyday." The complaint specifically notes these sentiments: "The Wahlberg brothers pride themselves on taking an active role in managing their locations and insuring that their restaurants meet their high standards for customer and employee experience."

This winter, Wahlburgers announced that it was adding 100 to 150 new locations over the next five years.

Michael Arria is an associate editor at AlterNet and AlterNet's labor editorFollow @MichaelArria on Twitter.

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