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California car washes agree to pay for unpaid wages

Imagine working hard to make ends meet, and not getting paid even the minimum amount of money required by law. California wage and hour laws are in place to prevent employers from abusing their workers and to provide an opportunity to employees to earn a fair wage. Last week, eight car wash companies in California agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging the companies failed to pay employees minimum wage, overtime wages, and wages owed after employees quit or were fired.

These allegations stem from interviews by investigators of over 80 workers from the different car washes. The lawsuit filed by the Attorney General's Office resulted in a settlement of $1 million that will go toward unpaid wages of workers and employment taxes. During the investigation, investigators say the some employees even quit their job because of poor working conditions and then their employer refused to pay wages for hours they worked before quitting.

The Labor Commissioner was notified when the employees didn't receive their wages, even though they had worked the hours. Some car washes eventually gave checks to the employees, only to have the checks denied because the companies' accounts had insufficient funds. The Commissioner then found that some of the car washes had been operating without licenses for years.

People who are working for less than minimum wage should know that this is a violation of the law, and they are entitled to a fair wage. They are also entitled to be paid if the employer is making them work overtime hours. If you feel you are being unfairly treated or you think your employer is violating California wage and hour laws, it would be wise to seek out help and understand your rights, as there are many laws in place to protect workers against employer abuse.

Source: Santa Monica Daily Press, "Santa Monica car wash settles civil labor lawsuit," Kevin Herrera, Jan. 11, 2012

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