Giovanni Di Palma, owner of Antico Pizza Napoletana, Gio's Chicken Amalfitano, Bottega Luisa, Caffe Gio, and Bar Amalfi in Westside's "Little Italia," is under federal investigation, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The US Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division alleges Di Palma is running Gio's "like a sweatshop."
On top of the initial investigation, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez has filed a complaint that Di Palma has been intimidating and threatening employees who he believed were cooperating with the investigation.
From the complaint, per the ABC:
"Defendant Di Palma has unlawfully interfered with this federal investigation in several ways. He has intimidated, terminated and threatened to terminate employees of the company and threatened to call immigration authorities concerning employees believed to have cooperated in the Department of Labor investigation."
A spokesperson for Antico Foods LLC denied the allegations in a statement to the ABC:
"Giovanni Di Palma's restaurants have experienced rapid, exponential growth -- from the first Antico space serving pizzas to the Little Italia district, which now has several concepts. Like any small, mom-and-pop start up business, this is an educational process and Gio and his team put tremendous effort into staying compliant on every level. Regarding Gio as an employer, Little Italia's extremely low turnover speaks for itself -- as do the steps he takes to make sure his family of employees are happy, like throwing grand staff appreciation events for them and their families."
In addition to his current lineup of restaurants in Little Italia, Di Palma is opening Antico and Cafe Gio locations at the Avalon mixed-use development in Alpharetta.
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