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Car Wash Sued for Overtime Wages

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Los Angeles, CAA Los Angeles car wash might be wishing it could forget about 2009 after the California Attorney General filed a lawsuit against it for alleged violations of California overtime laws. Accused of numerous failures to follow California overtime and minimum wage laws, Auto Spa Express could be on the hook for a lot of money.

The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, seeks $2.6 million in damages from Auto Spa Express. According to the lawsuit, the car wash did not pay minimum wages and forced employees to work almost 60 hours a week without overtime pay. Furthermore, the car wash allegedly denied injured employees workers' compensation benefits.

The company committed numerous labor violations between 2006 and 2008, including paying employees $6.32 an hour (California's minimum wage is $8.00 an hour) or not at all on days when there were no customers. The company paid employees in cash to avoid paying into the State Unemployment Fund, and it did not pay overtime, even though employees often worked six days a week for ten hours a day. It failed to provide safe working conditions and itemized statements of hours and wages to employees, and it failed to report industrial injuries suffered by employees that resulted in lost time or medical treatment beyond first aid.

According to a press release from the Attorney General's office, the state is cracking down on companies that violate worker-protection laws.

"Most companies in California comply with state wage and benefit laws, but if you're running a firm that's exploiting your workers in this economy when people are desperate for jobs, we want you to know that we will find you, we will stop you and we will file some of the toughest legal actions in the nation against you," Brown said.

The lawsuit seeks to recover $630,000 in unpaid wages for the employees and $2 million in penalties for violations of California's Unfair Business Act.

Auto Spa Wash is owned by Jonathan Min Kim and was sold to Sunset Car Wash, LLC, earlier in 2009.

According to the Los Angeles Times, on March 23, 2008, many car wash owners violate state labor laws by paying below the minimum wage or in tips only. Employees are now starting to fight back by reporting violations to regulators, but some employers still fail to follow California labor laws.


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