IR #2013-12
March 11, 2013

Erika Monterroza
Peter Melton
(510) 286-1161

Twitter @CA_DIR

California Labor Commissioner files suit against Fresno car wash for unpaid wages

Fresno—California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su has filed suit against a Fresno car wash owner for multiple labor law violations, including failure to provide minimum wage and overtime to employees. The lawsuit, filed in Fresno County Superior Court, seeks more than $279,000 in unpaid wages, penalties and damages affecting 33 workers at White Glove Car Wash.

An investigation conducted by the Labor Commissioner’s Office found evidence that White Glove owner Manbir S. Walia willfully violated the law by failing to pay proper wages and overtime to his employees. The lawsuit will be prosecuted by the attorneys for the Labor Commissioner’s Office, also known as Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). DLSE is a division of the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR).

“Employers who deny workers the pay they’ve earned will be held accountable,” said DIR  Director Christine Baker. “These illegal actions hurt not only the employees, but also honest businesses and taxpayers.”

White Glove employees were paid hourly. Workers were told to report in the morning to the car wash, but upon arrival they were not allowed to clock in until instructed by a supervisor. Labor Commissioner investigators also found that some workers were made to wait several hours before being permitted to clock in. As a result, employees who worked at the car wash for eight hours might only be paid for four hours.

“After finding a need to strengthen laws protecting workers in the carwash industry, the Legislature, in 2003, enacted reforms expanding DLSE enforcement authority,” said Labor Commissioner Su. “My office is committed to utilizing these tools to put wages earned into workers’ pockets and to influence rogue operators to treat their workers fairly and play by the rules. Making workers stand by for work without paying them, and covering up the violation by keeping false time cards, is a breach of the basic promise of a just day’s pay for a hard day’s work.” 

Earlier this year, the Labor Commissioner helped to bring a criminal complaint for conspiracy and grand theft against another carwash, Wilshire West Car Wash LLC. The case is being prosecuted by the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office as the result of an investigation begun by the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office adjudicates wage claims, investigates discrimination and public works complaints, and enforces state labor law and Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders. Information on the functions of the California Labor Commissioner is available on the DIR website as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

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