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Brown Sues Los Angeles Car Wash Company for Workers' Rights Violations
Los Angeles –Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today sued a Los Angeles car wash for $2.6 million for illegally forcing employees to work nearly 60-hour weeks without overtime, ignoring minimum wage laws and denying injured employees workers’ compensation benefits.
Brown's legal action was part of his statewide crackdown on companies that break 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 warned.
Brown’s lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court today against Auto Spa Express, Inc. and its owner, Jonathan Min Kim, and Sunset Car Wash, LLC. The violations occurred at Auto Spa Express car wash facility located at 2028 Sunset Blvd., which employed between 23 and 41 people, depending on the time of year. The facility was sold to Sunset Car Wash, LLC earlier this year.
The suit contends that from 2006 to 2008, the company failed to:
• Pay the state minimum wage to its employees. Employees were often paid $6.32 an hour; the state’s minimum wage is $8.00 an hour. On days when there were no customers, employees sometimes would not be paid at all.
• Pay overtime. Employees were often forced to work six days a week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., without overtime pay.
• Provide accurate itemized statements of hours and wages to employees. Employees were often paid in cash so that the company would not have to pay into the State Unemployment Fund or withhold pay for state taxes.
• Provide safe working conditions or report industrial injuries suffered by employees.
After receiving numerous complaints from Auto Express Spa employees, the Underground Economy Unit of the Attorney General's Office conducted an investigation into Auto Spa Express’ practices and uncovered the violations.
Brown seeks to recover $630,000 in unpaid wages for the company’s workers and to assess $2 million in penalties for violating California’s Unfair Business Act. The Attorney General is also seeking an injunction to prevent the defendants from committing similar violations in the future.
Today's action is part of Attorney General Brown’s ongoing crackdown on businesses that engage in unfair business practices by evading payroll taxes and failing to provide employees with state-mandated protections and benefits. Similar lawsuits were filed against a drywall contractor in Bakersfield and several trucking companies in Los Angeles.
The lawsuit is attached.