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Car Wash Workers Reach Settlement in California Labor Law Case

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Sacramento, CAEmployees at car washes in suburban Sacramento and other cities in the Golden State will share in a $1 million settlement over California labor law violations, according to The Sacramento Bee.

According to the news source, the workers in the settlement were allegedly denied minimum wage, overtime pay, meal breaks and other benefits, said Attorney General Kamala Harris.

More than a year ago, Harris' office sued eight car washes including Gold Rush Auto Spa in Fair Oaks and Folsom, and their principal owner, Dipu Haque Sikder. Although he admitted no liability or wrongdoing, the case was settled in favor of the workers at these sites.

A spokeswoman for Harris noted that the bulk of the settlement, totaling $800,000, will be split among the workers and ex-workers at these car washes. Along with payments to former employees, the organizations must pay $50,000 in back payroll taxes and more than $100,000 in civil penalties.

According to the Bee, the total payout comes to more than $1 million. Though the court judgment was entered for $1.5 million, the car wash owners were given a discount of $500,000 for agreeing to pay the claims prior to July 15.

"There is a strong public interest in distributing unpaid wages restitution to alleged employee victims…as promptly as possible," state lawyers said in court papers. "The victims are generally unskilled, low-wage, non-English speakers who are at high risk of being unemployed and without resources and especially vulnerable to financial hardship."

The news source reported that the settlement covers workers who have been employed by any of the eight car washes since October 4, 2006.

Two other California labor law citations were issued recently following investigations by the state's labor organization and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration against two farm labor contractors. These came following inquiries into the heat illness of two employees this past summer, according to a government release.

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