CAUTIONARY TALES EPISODE 26 « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Playa Vista Car Wash Takes a Dunking for $2.36 Million “Wage Theft”

On April 17, 2019, the Labor Commissioner’s Office announced a $2.36 million citation — the largest issued against a car wash business to date — against Playa Vista Car Wash along with its president and general manager for failing to properly pay or provide required breaks to 64 workers.

The Labor Commissioner launched an investigation after it received a referral from the Community Labor Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), a nonprofit that assists car wash workers.

Investigators charged that workers had to physically report to work 30 minutes before the car wash opened in order to ascertain their daily work schedule. Those not selected were sent home several hours later without pay. The car wash also allegedly required workers to take extended lunch breaks with no split shift premiums and/or to work up to 10 hours with no daily overtime pay. Managers also purportedly altered workers’ time cards to reduce total hours worked.

The citation includes payments and civil penalties for violations of minimum wage and overtime, meal and rest break requirements, split shift payments, itemized statement violations, and waiting time violations. Investigators cited an additional $10,000 for failure to register the car wash with the Labor Commissioner as required by Labor Code sections 2054 and 2060.

In her announcement, California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su stated: “Individuals acting on behalf of an employer to steal workers’ wages cannot hide behind corporate entities to avoid personal liability, all the while profiting at the expense of honest businesses that play by the rules.”

Labor Code section 558.1 exposes owners, directors, officers, and managing agents of California employers to personal liability for violations of minimum wage and hours and days of work. Thus, company and personal assets can be levied if a citation is not paid. This latest “mega-citation” is yet one more incentive for businesses to ensure continuing compliance with this state’s compensation laws.

For further information, please contact Tim BowlesCindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Cindy Bamforth

May 2, 2019