CHICAGO (CBS) — City officials are investigating complaints of wage theft, discrimination, and sexual harassment against Parlor Pizza, weeks after police raided the chain’s three Chicago restaurants as part of an unspecified criminal investigation.
The city’s Department of Business of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and the Chicago Commission on Human Relations said they are “working to conduct a comprehensive investigation of allegations that workers were not paid for overtime work, that employees were sexually harassed and that customers were discriminated against based on their race and/or age.”READ MORE: Chicagoan David Kronfeld Shares Advice To Career Success In New Book
City officials also are urging current and former employees who believe they were victims of unjust business practices, and any customers who believe they were victims of discrimination at any of Parlor’s three locations, to come forward. Workers can lodge complaints with the city’s Office of Labor Standards by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 312-744-2211. Customers can contact the Commission on Human Relations at by sending an email to email@example.com or by calling 312-744-4474.
The announcement comes after Block Club Chicago last week reported former Parlor Pizza employees had accused the company of mistreating customers of color, requiring staff to work unpaid overtime, and hiding potential COVID-19 exposures from employees.
Several former Parlor employees told Block Club that customers of color at the River North location were regularly seated in a spot workers called the “Rejection Section,” and that Parlor workers were often subjected to harassment and forced to work unpaid overtime all while being threatened with termination.
In a statement, Parlor Pizza owners denied the allegations, issuing the following statements:
“We firmly dispute these serious allegations and the blatantly false picture being painted of our restaurants, how we operate them and how we treat our valued employees and customers
We disavow racism and any discriminatory behavior at all Parlor locations and would immediately terminate any employee who acted in such a despicable way.
Respect, dignity and professionalism are the bedrocks of our workplace policies and culture. This is more than a business to us – we care deeply about our hundreds of employees, who are hard-working, dedicated and as diverse as the customers we are proud to serve.
We will fully cooperate with any government agency reviewing our business operations and we are confident that a fact-finding process will disprove the allegations.”
Speaking to WBBM Newsradio, Parlor Pizza director of Operations Patrick Comer also denied the allegations.
“It’s a blatantly false picture being painted of our restaurants, how we operate them, and how we treat all of our employees and customers. And it’s just utterly untrue,” Comer said. “I think we treat all of our employees and our guests with respect. We welcome everyone.”
Comer continued: “The allegations are truly offensive to what Parlor is to hundreds of hardworking, diverse employees who every day serve all of our guests that come into all of our restaurants.”READ MORE: At Least 24 People Wounded, 1 Killed In Weekend Shootings In Chicago
Last month, police raided the popular pizza restaurant’s three locations, assisting the Illinois Department of Revenue with an unspecified criminal investigation.
Investigators spent several hours inside all three locations on Oct. 27, and it appeared the popular pizza chain was being investigated for a possible financial crime.
In a statement, the Illinois Department of Revenue said: “In the event of potential violations of the Illinois Tax Act and related offenses, our Bureau of Criminal Investigations will investigate potential violations. The Illinois Department of Revenue cannot comment on ongoing investigations, however, or their existence.”
Employees who showed up to work at the time were locked out and had no idea what was going on.
Comer said the raid was for nothing more than a minor building violation.
“We were visited by agents in the City of Chicago and Illinois Department of Revenue. We corrected a minor building violation that was cited that day, and we’re currently cooperating with the Illinois Department of Revenue,” he said.
All three locations have since reopened.
In 2017, Parlor Pizza was sued in federal court for failing to pay overtime wages for former dishwashers.MORE NEWS: 1 Person In Critical Condition, 8 Displaced After Fire In Aurora
That matter was settled in February 2018.