Harvard Crimson | January, 2013
Harvard Square’s Upper Crust Pizzeria, which closed in the wake of a company-wide legal scandal last November, will reopen as the renamed and partially worker-owned The Just Crust, ushering in a new era for employees of the embattled chain.
Shannon E. Liss-Riordan ’90, who represented Upper Crust employees in a labor abuse case against the management, spearheaded a fundraising effort to purchase the Harvard Square location when the pizza chain’s ten leases were auctioned off in December 2012.
“It’s an exciting new way of supporting the workers we represent,” Liss-Riordan said. “I’m really hoping that we can make a success of it because I’m hoping this can serve as a model.”
In 2009, the Department of Labor mandated the company to pay approximately $340,000 to a number of workers who claimed they were not paid overtime. Liss-Riordan, who is also a graduate of Harvard Law School, filed a lawsuit against The Upper Crust in July 2010, shortly after founder Jordan Tobins allegedly demanded that the employees pay back their overtime wages in order to keep their jobs.
The case was eventually granted class-action status in July 2012, allowing Liss-Riordan to represent all of the aggrieved workers. When The Upper Crust filed for bankruptcy in October and the company closed its 10 storefronts, Liss-Riordan started thinking about a way to reopen the restaurants and further help the employees she had represented.