Connecticut sues for $2.7M in wages to rest stop workers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut is suing the operator of the state's 23 highway rest stops, alleging the company is refusing to pay more than $2.7 million in back wages owed to food service workers for Subway, Dunkin' and other restaurant chains, state Attorney General William Tong announced Friday.

The state labor commissioner's lawsuit was filed against New Haven-based Project Service, which runs the service plazas along interstates 95 and 395 and Route 15. The company is responsible for any failure of its subcontractors to follow wage laws and other legal requirements, according to the lawsuit filed in Hartford Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleges that from 2017 to 2019, the plaza workers were not paid the state's “standard wage,” an amount for certain state contractor employees that typically is a few dollars per hour higher than the state's minimum wage. A state investigation found more than 2,000 workers were underpaid, Tong said.

Project Service did not respond to phone and email messages Friday.

“These workers did their job, and they deserve to be paid their full compensation,” Tong said in a statement. “Project Service was put on notice years ago that their subcontractors were underpaying workers in violation of state law. They have continuously refused to make their workers whole despite repeated warnings and demands.”

The state is seeking payment of the $2.7 million wages, damages of $2.7 million and more than $700,000 in civil penalties against Project Service.

Messages also were left for representatives of Subway, Dunkin', Chipotle and Taco Bell, which have restaurants at the rest stops that are named in the lawsuit, as well as for the franchise owners.

A Dunkin' spokesperson said the company does not comment on litigation involving its franchisees. Dunkin' workers at the rest stops are owed $1.8 million of the $2.7 million total back wages, the state's lawsuit said.

In 2020, state officials said they recovered $870,000 for workers at McDonald's restaurants in three service plazas for similar wage violations.