A half-dozen car wash workers were paid more than $360,000 in wages owed to them by two car wash operators in the Los Angeles area, California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Suh announced Wednesday.
The workers, who had been employed an average of six years, were shorted on minimum wages and overtime, and were denied rest and meal breaks as required by law, she said.
The Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, also known as the Labor Commissioner’s Office, determined that the workers put in 10 to 12 hours each day and were paid $3.50 to $5.40 per hour, well below the state’s minimum wage.
Three of them worked at National Car Wash, 9001 National Blvd. in Los Angeles, and three worked at Century Car Wash, 4700 W. Century Blvd. in Inglewood, Su said. None of the workers were provided their final paychecks, she said.
“Car wash workers frequently are subjected to wage theft, and my office has focused its efforts on holding employers accountable and returning owed wages to workers,” Su said. “This case shows that when workers come forward and report workplace violations, they can win back the wages they were owed, recover additional penalties, and expose illegal practices.”
“Investigators also found that one worker was ordered to sign blank sheets of paper before receiving his paycheck “ a practice used to falsify records “ and forced to `volunteer’ his time on slow days without pay,” according to a statement released by Su’s office.
Another worker said his boss told him that rest periods did not exist, and paid him only in tips on slow days, according to Su.
The workers were paid $140,912 in back wages, $98,506 in liquidated damages, $72,428 in interest, $36,134 in rest and meal break penalties and $15,645 in waiting time penalties, for a total of $363,625.
The monies came out of the Car Wash Worker Restitution Fund, which is funded by a portion of the registration fees paid by car wash owners. The Labor Commissioner’s Office over the past three years has paid 112 car wash workers more than $2.5 million from the fund.