US car wash fined $800,000 for wage theft

Hand Car Wash

A car wash in the US has been fined more than $800,000 for wage theft. According to a member of the Clean Car Wash Worker Center, wage theft is a common problem in parts of the branch.

Local LA news sites reported this week that wage theft violations by Torrance Car Wash struck 35 workers. After findings of a California Labor Commissioner’s investigation, the company was fined $815,311.

The investigation concluded some employees were only paid for about 80 hours in a pay period, even though they had worked beyond that. Others were forced to wait before clocking in and were never compensated for their waiting time, they had been called to work.

Common practice

According to Flor Rodriguez, executive director of the Clean Car Wash Worker Center (CLEAN) her organization frequently informs car wash workers about their rights. “That’s how we were able to get workers who came and talked to us about the conditions at Torrance Car Wash. Violations in the car wash industry are all too common and retaliation is often severe when workers do speak up.”

The densely populated L.A. County is home to a vast network of car washes, which employ more than 10,000 car wash workers. About 15 percent of them have experienced some form of wage theft, CLEAN calculated.

Playa Vista

In 2018 several workers raised concerns about being paid less than the state minimum wage and working more than 40 hours without overtime pay. Workers were not provided rest breaks and they documented reporting time violations including being called into work only to be told to wait without pay for several hours.

It’s not the first time wage theft has been reported in the car wash industry. After a multi-year investigation, the Playa Vista Car wash in Culver City was cited $2.4 million dollars for massive violations of minimum wage and overtime laws – making it the largest citation against a carwash business in California.

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Author: Rene Passet

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