Mono Diner in Georgetown closes after refusing or shorting last paychecks to all their workers

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For months Georgetown's Mono Diner has had a problem: owner Mohammad Esfahnani had discovered he could save money by withholding employee's last paychecks outright and paying for only some of the hours employees had been clocked in on others. This is flat-out wage theft. Now he has shut the restaurant down, and apparently nobody there will get their last paycheck. Mohammad Esfahnani now owes at least $6,602 in back wages and has refused to pay even in the face of months of pressure and complaints to the DC government.

In addition workers found that Mono Diner was not complying with DC laws requiring the business to make up the difference between the sum of what the business paid and what workers got in tips and the regular minimum wage when workers did not get enough in tips to earn at least the full (not tipped) minimum wage. There was even a failed attempt to get out of paying overtime. In short, Mono Diner's owner (also owner of All About Burger) has never missed an opportunity to save money at the expense of his workers. He does not honor his contracts with employees, which raises questions for suppliers and banks about whether he will honor their accounts payable either.

In the case of missing or short last paychecks, this is a common wage theft model: the worker is not going to be working any more hours, so they cannot respond to short pay by walking out because they are already out. The only recourse is to sue in small claims court, to bring in city regulatory agencies, or to bring in union organizers. Shuttin down the entire business may pre-empt unionization, but Mohammad Esfahnani owns other businessses whose employees could be at risk for similar exploitation.

The (cropped) messaging screenshots below tell the story of one of many employees who pay has been shorted by Mono Diner's owner, probably not even the worst case. The "No problem, please call Mr Mohommed" part was where efforts to collect unpaid wages stalled, as he is the one responsible for the choice to steal and pocket wages owned to his workers. Everyone else in the chain of responsibility did what they could, but the boss has been flat-out refusing to pay.

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