PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A former bartender at the Pizza Schmizza locations in Portland’s Pearl District and Northwest Portland is suing the company’s owner and asking him to pay back the $1,400 in wages he’s owed. 

Richard Lederer filed the complaint on May 6 against Enso Elite Inc., the franchise operator of the Pizza Schmizza locations he worked at. 

In the lawsuit, Lederer accuses the franchise operator of wage theft by failing to pay all compensation owed to its employees at the two locations. Lederer filed the lawsuit individually and on behalf of other employees in similar situations

Lederer said he worked as a bartender at the two pizza shops from December 2021 to April 2022 and that the company owes him approximately $1,400 in wages, plus penalties and interest. 

The lawsuit states that Pizza Schmizza workers tried calling and texting the company’s CEO, Fernando Rodriguez, but that their messages went unanswered. Because of this, the employees feel forced to file a lawsuit to recover the wages they are owed. 

Lederer said he’s not asking for any damages through the lawsuit, just equitable relief. 

However, the lawsuit states Lederer and other members involved in the lawsuit will request damages in an amended complaint “only if defendant refuses to provide the identity and contact information for each putative class member, notify each member that upon request defendant will make the appropriate compensation and remedy the alleged wrong, and cease from engaging in the practices alleged to be violative of the policy rights of the members.” 

The lawsuit claims the company willfully chose to not pay the employees the wages they are owed. 

Lederer and his attorney, Michael Fuller, are requesting a jury trial if the wages aren’t paid back to the employees within 30 days. The plaintiff also seeks any relief the court may deem appropriate. 

KOIN 6 News emailed Rodriguez for comment, but did not receive a response before publication. 

Holly Earle-Schultze, director of marketing for Schmizza International, sent a follow-up comment to KOIN 6 News in response to the article about the lawsuit. The following comment was sent on Tuesday, May 17:

On May 10, Schmizza International, Inc. was made aware of a lawsuit against the owner of two Schmizza locations in the Portland area alleging the owner withheld employees’ pay.

As with most other franchises, each Schmizza store is independently owned. Each owner, or franchisee, is solely responsible for the day-to-day operations of their business, their payroll, and the fair treatment of their employees.  We strictly require our franchisees to adhere to all labor laws.

We are investigating the incident, and we are taking it very seriously. If we conclude the owner violated Schmizza policies, we will respond with appropriate action.

Earle-Schultze said Schmizza International has been in touch with Rodriguez and that he’s been out of the state. She said Rodriguez told the company he’s working on the situation.