Sixteen car wash employees in Southern California will get back wages and damages paid to them following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department. Riverbend Hand Car Wash in Yorba Linda will have to pay its workers $68,656 after the investigation revealed that employees were forced to arrive at a certain time but not paid until they were actually washing vehicles. The Orange County Register reports that the company also refused to pay overtime and that the company did not keep accurate records.
A co-owner of the business told the Register that the employees showed up to work early because of the way they arranged for their own transportation. He said they were paid a fair wage and that the company also paid overtime. The co-owner maintains the company’s innocence.
“Most guys in this industry are bad guys. But we treat our workers better than any other car wash owner. We paid $10 an hour before it was the minimum wage. We paid them when they got sick,” he said. “What happened to us was not fair.”
Riverbend Hand Car Wash is not the only car wash business under scrutiny in California, where labor laws are repeatedly abused by those in the industry. The Register reports that between 2009 and 2014 more than 1,400 citations were doled out to car wash owners in California for violating similar labor laws.