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Release Number: 2024-06
Date: January 23, 2024

California Labor Commissioner’s Office Reaches $1 Million Settlement with Cheesecake Factory, Janitorial Contractors

Owed Wages to be Distributed to 589 Janitors

San Diego—The Labor Commissioner’s Office (LCO) reached a $1 million settlement against the Cheesecake Factory Restaurants Inc. dba The Cheesecake Factory and two janitorial contractors for underpaying 589 janitorial workers.

Janitors who worked at Cheesecake Factory restaurants in Brea, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Escondido, San Diego-Fashion Valley and San Diego-Seaport District between August 31, 2014 and August 31, 2017 should immediately contact LCO at (619) 767-2039 as they may be entitled to owed wages and damages under the settlement agreement.

“California strengthened its laws to remove loopholes that allowed businesses to subcontract services and avoid responsibility to ensure workers are paid what they are owed,” said Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower. “This settlement is a result of our effort to use enforcement tools which increase compliance, levels the playing field and recovers owed wages for workers.”

LCO’s investigation began in December 2016 after receiving complaints of possible wage and hour violations of janitors who cleaned Cheesecake Factory restaurants in San Diego County.

The workers were employed by Zully Villegas dba Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning, which in turn was engaged by Americlean Janitorial Services Corp., dba Allied National Services, for the client Cheesecake Factory Restaurants, Inc. These entities were cited in 2018 for unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime, liquidated damages and waiting time penalties, as well as meal and rest period premiums. All three entities were held liable under California Labor Code Section 2810.3.

All three entities appealed the citations, and the case settled before going to hearing. Under the settlement’s terms, contractors must provide information on prior wage claims as part of the bidding process with Cheesecake Factory, as well as provide annual wage and hour trainings to janitors. Cheesecake Factory can audit their contractors and agreed to train their managers and those overseeing janitorial contracts to ensure the law is followed.

The case was originally referred by the Employee Rights Center, a non-profit organization in San Diego that offers legal services regarding employment and labor law issues. Soon after the referral, the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund (MCTF), a statewide watchdog organization that works to eliminate illegal and unfair business practices in the janitorial industry in California, began connecting former employees of Zully Villegas dba Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning with the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

The Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (California Labor Commissioner’s Office) combats wage theft and unfair competition by investigating allegations of illegal and unfair business practices.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office in 2020 launched an interdisciplinary outreach campaign, “Reaching Every Californian.” The campaign amplifies basic protections and builds pathways to affected populations, so workers and employers understand legal protections and obligations, as well as the Labor Commissioner’s enforcement procedures. Californians can follow the Labor Commissioner on Facebook and Twitter.