Former employees of the now-defunct Pepper’s Pizza have filed labor complaints claiming owner David “Pepper” Harvey owes them thousands of dollars from missing paychecks.
Harvey shuttered Pepper’s Pizza on March 4 after 26 years on Franklin Street, claiming he was facing difficulties paying off a loan.
Harvey did not answer or respond to multiple calls requesting comment made during the past three days.
Neal O’Briant, spokesman for the N.C. Department of Labor, said his department received two complaints from Pepper’s Pizza employees on March 11 and March 12.
O’Briant said both complaints are still being investigated.
A defunct business
Records from the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State detail some challenges faced by Pepper’s Pizza before it closed.
As of April 27, 2011, Harvey had failed to file 10 annual reports for his corporation Wedoughmakers Inc., according to documents from the department. Wedoughmakers Inc. was registered at the same address — 127 E. Franklin St. — as Pepper’s Pizza.
On July 21, 2011, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall dissolved the corporation.
O’Briant said the Pepper’s employees’ complaints are not unusual, and that his department regularly receives similar complaints from employees seeking wages from defunct businesses.
“It happens from time to time,” he said. “There’s anecdotal evidence but no hard statistics.”
‘Never got that money’
Former Pepper’s employee Imani Kolman said she and fellow employees are desperate for help because Harvey owes them a lot of money.
“Personally, I am owed over $2,000, and I know there are others with even larger amounts owed to them,” she said.
Mitch Lucas said, as an employee, he never knew if his paychecks were going to clear.
Lucas said that eventually, employees stopped receiving paychecks, and he quit about a week before Pepper’s closed its doors for good.
Norma Rivas, a shift manager at Pepper’s, said Harvey owes her more than $1,000 for 125 hours of work.
Rivas said she started keeping track of the time she worked when she noticed previous checks she received were wrong.
“Last month, I couldn’t pay my rent on time because he didn’t pay us,” she said. “I’m a single mother. Can you imagine me working 125 hours and not getting paid?”
On the restaurant’s final day of business, Rivas said Harvey told customers he was going to increase prices on menu items to raise money for the employees’ paychecks.
Rivas said pizza slices that normally sold for about $4 were sold for about $8.
“The customers know that Pepper’s was raising the money for the employees,” she said. “But we never got that money.”
Rivas said when she asked Harvey about her paychecks before the restaurant closed, he reassured her she would be paid.
Lucas said he has attempted to contact Harvey multiple times through voicemails and texts, but has heard nothing.
Rivas said she and others are still waiting.
“It’s been a month, and we still haven’t gotten anything,” Rivas said.
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