California AG Sues Car Wash Company for Workers’ Rights Violations

December 17, 2009

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. has sued a Los Angeles car wash for $2.6 million for illegally forcing employees to work nearly 60-hour weeks without overtime, ignoring minimum wage laws and denying injured employees workers’ compensation benefits.

Brown’s legal action was part of his statewide crackdown on companies that break worker-protection laws.

Brown’s lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against Auto Spa Express Inc. and its owner, Jonathan Min Kim, and Sunset Car Wash LLC. The violations occurred at Auto Spa Express car wash facility located at 2028 Sunset Blvd., which employed between 23 and 41 people, depending on the time of year. The facility was sold to Sunset Car Wash LLC earlier this year.

The suit contends that from 2006 to 2008, the company failed to:

  • Pay the state minimum wage to its employees. Employees were often paid $6.32 an hour; the state’s minimum wage is $8.00 an hour. On days when there were no customers, employees sometimes would not be paid at all.
  • – Pay overtime. Employees were often forced to work six days a week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., without overtime pay.
  • – Provide accurate itemized statements of hours and wages to employees. Employees were often paid in cash so that the company would not have to pay into the State Unemployment Fund or withhold pay for state taxes.
  • – Provide safe working conditions or report industrial injuries suffered by employees.

After receiving numerous complaints from Auto Express Spa employees, the Underground Economy Unit of the Attorney General’s Office conducted an investigation into Auto Spa Express’ practices and uncovered the violations.

Brown seeks to recover $630,000 in unpaid wages for the company’s workers and to assess $2 million in penalties for violating California’s Unfair Business Act. The Attorney General is also seeking an injunction to prevent the defendants from committing similar violations in the future.

Source: AG

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