The criminal complaint, filed January 23, 2013, has charged the owner, general manager and two supervisors of Wilshire West Car Wash with conspiracy to cheat employees out of their wages. The complaint accuses the defendants of violating California labor laws by prohibiting workers from taking rest and meal breaks, and “coercing employees into signing declarations which falsely stated that they had received paid breaks,” according to city prosecutors. It also accuses the defendants of falsifying and altering employees’ time cards to make it appear as though they worked fewer hours than they actually did.
The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office has charged the defendants with grand theft of money and labor by false pretenses; conspiracy; failure to pay minimum wage; failure to give meal breaks and rest breaks; and taking back wages which had been paid.
unfortunately, Wilshire West Car Wash is not the only local car wash to be accused of violating employment laws. In May, Santa Monica Car Wash and Detailing was slapped with a civil complaint filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. And the state Attorney General announced earlier this year a settlement of a lawsuit it had filed against 8 other California car washes, including Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica.
In March 2012, the California Labor Commissioner filed 2 lawsuits against 3 car washes for unpaid wages, penalties and damages, totaling more than $2 million. Rosecrans King Car Wash was accused of not paying its workers for all the hours they worked, and the lawsuit seeks almost $1.7 million in minimum wage, overtime, penalties and attorney fees. Vermont Auto Spa also violated similar California state labor laws.
In June 2011, Tomas Rodriguez, was awarded $80,000: Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Mooney ruled that the 3 car wash owners and one manager were liable for $50,000 in back wages for failing to provide proper employment records, and an additional $30,000 in damages.
The criminal charges in the Wilshire West Car Wash case, all of which are misdemeanors, include:
– grand theft of money and labor by false pretenses;
– failure to pay minimum wage;
– failure to give meal breaks;
– failure to give paid breaks; and
– taking back wages that have already been paid.
Each of the 11 charged offenses is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in county jail, and maximum fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 per offense.
If you have been the victim of one of the above offenses, call my office, The Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman to discuss your case for free. 877-449-8898