California Car Wash Employees Clean Up with Labor Commissioner’s Help


By Dalia Z. Khatib and Sierra Vierra © Jackson Lewis May 7, 2019

The California labor commissioner fined a Southern California car wash for more than $2.36 million for alleged wage and hour violations. These fines included both civil penalties and wages owed to employees. This appears to be a continuation of the agency's enforcement actions against commercial car washes from 2012 and 2015.

In addition to fining the company, the labor commissioner held both the company president and general manager jointly and separately liable (under California Labor Code section 558.1) for these violations. Individual liability means a manager or officer—or anyone else acting on behalf of the company who violates or causes a violation of the labor code—could be liable for paying out a lawsuit.

The company's activities affected at least 64 employees. This enforcement action was not triggered by employee complaints. Rather, the agency received information of potential violations from CLEAN, a nonprofit corporation set up to assist employees of the car wash industry. The nonprofit focuses its effort around targeting car washes in the Los Angeles area.

Employees recovered damages for violations of waiting time, split shifts and overtime violations. The employees claimed their employer forced them to wait around the facility—without pay—before being told if they would be working that day. Further, employees claimed they worked more than eight hours a day without receiving overtime pay and alleged that they failed to receive premium pay for split shifts. The employees also complained of improper record-keeping practices.

The car wash also was fined for failing to register with the labor commissioner's office as required under California Labor Code Section 2054. In the past, failing to register had been only an initial trigger for an investigation.

Dalia Z. Khatib and Sierra Vierra are attorneys with Jackson Lewis in Sacramento, Calif. © 2019 Jackson Lewis. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission. 


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