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Papa John's shop owner livid about state penalty | Business

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Papa John's shop owner livid about state penalty
Business, Politics

LATHAM - "It's like a gun to your head if you will. You just pay it. You don't have a chance," said Christian King.

The pizza shop owner said he feels powerless to fight against the state Labor Department after auditors poured over business records at his Papa John's pizza shop in Latham and hit him with a $5,500 penalty. Auditors said he wasn't providing enough polo shirts to employees.

"Did we think we were giving more than enough shirts? Absolutely," King said.

King added that he gives one to two shirts to part-timers who work only a few hours a shift. But a Labor Department spokesman says that by law employees should get a different shirt every shift no matter how long they work.

King thought that was petty and excessive.

"A lot of times it becomes the point of the thing, not necessarily the dollar amount, although $5,500 is a lot of money in this case. So it's just very frustrating because we try to do all the things we can right," he said, noting that auditors found mainly positive things about his record keeping and payroll practices.

Assemblyman Bob Reilly agreed with King, saying this is a troubling example of what's hurting New York businesses.

"So the mind set of government and all the state agencies is, let's find out what people are doing wrong rather than let's help people do things right," Reilly said.

Reilly says that flies in the face of the governor's declaration that New York is "open for business."

"The governor has a plan to help business. This does not help business," Reilly said speaking about the layers of bureaucracy and regulations.

In fact, King says there's no use in appealing the decision, saying the system is backlogged and it would cost him more to fight.

"As Mr. Cuomo said, 'open for business?' I haven't seen it and it's very disheartening and unless they change it they aren't going to have any business in the state," King said.

Reilly plans to introduce legislation that would speed up the appeal process for employers who contest these kinds of penalties.

A Labor Department spokesman said he couldn't comment on King's case because it's an active investigation, but that employers facing these orders of assessment must reimburse employees for the maintenance of the uniforms if they'd had the proper number in the first place.

The spokesperson referred us to these regulations to explain the law covering uniform maintenance.

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