Rick Ross family fined for breaking employment laws
Rapper Rick Ross’ family, which operates multiple Wingstop franchises, owns the five Mississippi locations the Labor Department found to be illegally deducting money from workers’ wages, leaving some with take-home pay below $7.25. $ per hour.
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division says stores in Mississippi — under Boss Wing Enterprises — illegally charged their employees for uniforms, safety training, background checks and even cash register shortages .
“Restaurant industry employees work hard, often for low wages, and many depend on every dollar earned to make ends meet,” said Jackson’s Wage and Hour Division Manager Audrey Hall. , in a press release. “The law prevents Boss Wing Enterprises LLC from transferring operating costs to workers…or allowing a worker’s pay to fall below the minimum wage rate.”
The rapper and Clarksdale native’s older sister and assistant, Tawanda Roberts, is listed as a registered agent and director of Boss Wings Enterprises LLC in Mississippi, according to business documents filed with the state. His mother, Tommie Roberts, is also listed. Ross’s family has increased its number of Wingstop locations over the past decade.
Last year, the rapper posted on Instagram that he gave his 16-year-old son his first Wingstop franchise.
The DOL says it recovered $51,674 in wages owed to 244 workers and fined the franchise company $62,753 in civil penalties.
Tawanda Roberts did not respond to a request for comment on her work email regarding the DOL investigation. A Boss Wing representative reached by phone told a reporter to contact Wingstop’s public relations department for comment, even though they operate independently. In a statement, Wingstop distanced itself from Boss Wings.
“The restaurants investigated by the DOL are owned and operated by a franchisee, not by Wingstop Restaurants Inc. Our franchise agreement requires that all of our franchisees operate according to our operating standards, which requires compliance with all laws and regulations “, the company said in a statement. statement. “We were unaware of the DOL action against Boss Wings LLC.”
During his investigation, the Wage and Hour Division found minimum wage violations due to improper deductions from wages; overtime violations when the employer deducted wages for safety training and background checks during weeks when workers took extra shifts; and violations for failing to keep proper records of hours worked by workers.
Investigators also found a 15-year-old working illegally after 10 p.m. last June. Federal law says young teens can’t work after 7 p.m.
The DOL says it uncovered more than $34.7 million for more than 29,000 restaurant industry workers in the last fiscal year. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to report record service sector job openings as an influx of service workers begin to organize unions.
READ MORE: Starbucks workers and others trying to unionize in Mississippi face decades-old difficulties
“Employers who don’t respect their workers’ rights are likely to have a hard time retaining and hiring the people they need to stay competitive, as workers seek opportunities from employers who do,” Hall said.
Ross and his sister have spoken publicly about getting into the wing business. The rapper – whose 2006 song “Hustlin” made him famous – told Forbes in 2014 that he first thought of opening a franchise of his favorite wing site soon after starting his music career.
Tawanda Roberts is a Mississippi Valley State elder. Boss Wing lists its Southaven-based offices in the state records. The DOL named Wingstop locations in Clarksdale, Tupelo, Starkville, Olive Branch and Oxford as part of its investigation.
Ross cut the ribbon to open downtown Clarksdale in 2020.
“This is a job opportunity in Clarksdale and an opportunity for the black community,” Ross told local media during the opening ceremony. “It will bring people downtown and Clarksdale needs it.”
The rapper had a group of locations in Memphis, but Wingstop headquarters said Boss Wings transferred those locations to a new operator. Most of the family’s locations are in the Southeast and Miami, where Ross lives.
It’s unclear how many Wingstop locations the family now runs, but a Wingstop blog said Ross owned 28 in 2019.