IR #2005-41
Wednesday, October 5, 2005


Dean Fryer
Renee Bacchini
(415) 703-5279

Labor Commissioner goes to bat for workers,
collects $180,000 from employer

San Francisco - State Labor Commissioner Donna M. Dell, chief of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), under the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), was awarded $180,000 in a lawsuit filed by DIR on behalf of nine employees of Rolling Hills Hand Car Wash. The award was paid by the Palos Verdes' business owners and brothers, Charles and Daniel Moine. The money was received by DIR in late Sept. and is in the process of being distributed to the employees. The lawsuit, which began in June of 2004, went to trial in March of this year and was settled on September 12, 2005.

"This is an example of justice being served for workers and legitimate employers in California," said Commissioner Dell. "The Moines were operating within the underground economy with neither providing workers' compensation nor properly paying the employees, which created for them an unfair competitive advantage in the marketplace. Justice is served, the employees will get back wages owed to them and there is one less business trying to illegally undercut its competitors."

The case began as part of an enforcement sweep by DLSE's Bureau of Field Enforcement (BOFE) in May of 2003. The inspection revealed that the owners of the carwash had no proof of workers' compensation and employees were not being paid properly under California labor law. BOFE issued a Stop Order to discontinue business until proof of workers' comp was provided. The carwash in fact had no workers' comp and was closed for approximately a month until they could provide the insurance. A citation for $77,000 was issued for back wages, overtime, missed meal and rest periods and compensation for 10 days of work the employees had to forfeit when the business was closed by the Stop Order.

The award includes approximately $149,000 for employee wages and penalties and $31,000 to cover the cost of state attorney's fees and court costs.

The nine workers, all immigrants from México and most monolingual in Spanish, worked on average between two and four years, with some working nearly 10 years.

"These employees took extraordinary steps to come forward and offer testimony at the trial in LA Superior Court. Individual employees will receive between $5,000 and $20,000 each for unpaid wages," Dell added.

For more information on California Labor Law please visit DIR's Web site at Select the contact us link to identify the nearest district DLSE office for anyone who may need to file a complaint.

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Note to editors: Individual workers may be available for interviews