Bay Area Subway Franchises Ordered to Pay $1 Million for Endangering Minors and Check Fraud

In a startling revelation, a U.S. District Court ruling has mandated that Subway owners in the Bay Area must disburse nearly $1 million in back wages and damages to employees, some as young as 14, due to flagrant labor violations. The decision, handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, comes after a comprehensive investigation exposed a litany of unlawful practices.

Federal investigators uncovered a distressing pattern of misconduct, wherein underage workers were instructed to operate perilous equipment and subjected to illegal working hours. Among the myriad violations were the owners' failure to provide regular compensation, the issuance of numerous dishonored checks, and the illicit misappropriation of employee tips. In response to these findings, the court has also ordered the immediate closure of the Subway businesses owned by the accused, slated for shutdown by November 27.

The accusations were lodged against individuals identified as John Meza, Jessica Meza, and Hamza Ayesh. Investigators found that the Mezas, who hold ownership positions, actively obstructed the Wage and Hour Division's inquiry into the allegations and engaged in coercive tactics to dissuade employees from cooperating with the investigation. Shockingly, they even resorted to intimidating underage workers who voiced concerns or sought to assert their legal rights.

Additional findings revealed that Meza's associate, Ayesh, had threatened an employee who raised objections regarding a bounced paycheck.

The court's ruling stipulates that the Mezas are obligated to compensate 184 employees, including minors, with a total of $475,000 in wages, overtime, and tips. An equivalent sum in liquidated damages is also mandated, along with $150,000 in penalties. Furthermore, the Mezas and Ayesh will face an additional financial burden of $12,000 in punitive damages as a consequence of their retaliatory behavior, as per the court's directive.

The extensive investigation and litigation encompass 14 Subway locations across the Bay Area, underscoring the magnitude of the violations and the imperative need for justice and restitution.

  • 2777 Lone Tree Way, Antioch, California
  • 1026 Oak St., Suite #103, Clayton, California
  • 301 Sun Valley Mall, Concord, California
  • 8500 Gravestein Highway, Unit B, Cotati, California
  • 2375 California Blvd., Napa, California
  • 3214 Jefferson St., Napa, California
  • 902 Enterprise Way, Unit A, Napa, California
  • 2620 Lakeville Highway, Unit #320, Petaluma, California
  • 221 North McDowell Blvd., Petaluma, California
  • 961 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma, California
  • 13501 San Pablo Ave, San Pablo, California
  • 124-B Calistoga Road, Santa Rosa, California
  • 199 Lincoln Road West, C, Vallejo, California
  • 6400 Hembree Lane, Unit #100, Windsor, California