Tuesday, June 11, 2024

An update on one of 2023's Worst Employers

Q: What do you win for coming in 6th place in 2023's Worst Employer contest?

A: 20 years in federal prison.

That's what Stavros Papantoniadis, the owner of Stash’s Pizza, is potentially facing after a jury convicted him on three counts of forced labor and three counts of attempted forced labor.

The evidence against Papantoniadis was horrific. Prosecutors demonstrated to the jury that he intentionally overworked and underpaid undocumented workers in his pizza shops and forced their compliance through violent abuse and threats of deportation. He kicked employees in the genitals, slapped and choked them, and even broke an employee's teeth. When they tried to quit, he threatened to report them to the authorities.

"The guilty verdict sends a powerful message to abusive employers that exploiting employees through fear and intimidation will never be tolerated," said prosecuting attorney Joshua Levy. "Mr. Papantoniadis preyed on the desperation of those without immigration status, subjecting them to violence and threats of deportation. Forced labor is a serious violation of human rights, and no one should live in fear of abuse and coercion in their workplace."

Through his attorney, Papantoniadis said that he "respects the jury's verdict," but is "extremely disappointed that they credited the testimony of the victims and overlooked their motives, which was to attain lawful status here in our country."

Papantoniadis may not have won last year's trophy, but I think we can all agree he got the prize he deserved.