LOS ANGELES— On April 17, 2019, the Labor Commissioner’s Office announced it has issued more than $2.36 million in wage theft citations to a Culver City car wash for failing to properly pay or provide required breaks to 64 workers.
An investigation at Centinela Car Wash, Inc., DBA Playa Vista Car Wash uncovered wage theft practices that are common in the car wash industry. The citations, which name the corporation’s president and general manager as jointly and severally liable, are the largest issued against a car wash business by the Labor Commissioner’s Office.
Workers were required to report to an alley next to the car wash 30 minutes before the business opened to be selected to work that day. Those not selected were typically sent home several hours later without being paid for the waiting time. Workers were also frequently required to take extended lunch breaks with no split-shift premium, or worked up to 10 hours a day with no overtime pay. Managers regularly altered workers’ time cards to reduce total hours worked.
“Workers should not pay the price for someone else’s greed, they show up to perform a job a deserve to be lawfully paid,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “DIR investigators know what to look for in cases like this and can help workers who are being cheated recoup their losses.”
The investigation was opened in February 2018 after the Labor Commissioner’s Office received a referral from the Community Labor Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), a nonprofit that assists car wash workers.
The $2,365,051 citation amount includes:
- $1,849,151 payable to workers,
- $515,900 in civil penalties.
Of the total due to workers:
- $487,045 is for minimum wage violations,
- $146,129 in overtime wages,
- $688,410 in liquidated damages,
- $258,394 for meal and rest break violations,
- $64,905 for split shift violations,
- $188,450 for itemized statement violations
- and $15,638 for waiting time penalties.
The civil penalties include:
$124,150 for minimum wage and overtime violations,
$49,350 for meal and rest break violations,
$49,400 for split shift violations
and $293,000 for itemized statement violations.
Investigators also issued a demand that Playa Vista Car Wash pay $19,000 to return illegal deductions from workers’ paychecks for towels used at the car wash.