Labor troubles at Upper Crust

Globe coverage of complaints from former employees - and a probe by the US Department of Labor - on employment practices at the pizza chain.

Dec. 5, 2010

The fault lines under the crust

The Upper Crust pizza chain was, from the start, favored by foodies — and by scores of illegal workers from one Brazilian village. It was a bond that benefited all, until it suddenly didn’t.


From Brazil to Beacon Hill

The complicated relationship between a Boston pizza empire and a tiny town that helped build it.

Jordan Tobins has found fame and success since starting Upper Crust, but his former boss, Hedy Jarras, says Tobins took business contacts and expansion plans.

A driven young man, and the chain he made

Jordan Tobins showed up at the grand opening party for Sweet Tomatoes in Newton Centre in 1998, fresh out of college and with no pizza-making skills. That didn’t stop him from trying his hand at it.

// Ailing Upper Crust closes most restaurants

The pizza chain has let go about 140 employees and will shut down permanently unless it can get a cash infusion in the next few days.

Upper Crust’s staff due $850,000, US says

Upper Crust, the bankrupt gourmet pizza chain accused of exploiting workers as it expanded across the region, owes employees about $850,000 in back wages and damages, according to court records filed by the US Department of Labor. A federal investigation of pay practices at Upper Crust between April 2009 and January 2011 found the company violated minimum-wage and overtime laws, and failed to pay 67 employees roughly $425,000 during that period. Upper Crust owes an equal amount in damages, as well as $37,000 in civil penalties.

Upper Crust files for bankruptcy

Upper Crust, the gourmet pizza chain that expanded rapidly over the last decade, but in recent years struggled with labor troubles, financial problems, and ownership disputes, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The Boston chain, which defaulted on its loan to TD Bank in late September, said it owes at least $3.4 million, including more than $500,000 to a Brookline construction company, and $229,049 to former Massachusetts attorney general Thomas F. Reilly, who represented the company after leaving office.

// Upper Crust accused of scheming on pay

After being ordered by the government to pay employees nearly $350,000 in overtime, executives devised a scheme to wrest the money back, the chain’s former CFO said.