Torrance car wash ordered to pay over $800,000 for wage theft

A Torrance car wash will have to pay its workers nearly $750,000 as well as nearly $70,000 in fines after an audit by state investigators found wage theft.

The business, Torrance Car Wash, was cited $815,311 for wage theft violations involving 35 workers, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office said Wednesday.

“An investigation found that some workers worked beyond 80 hours per pay period, but received pay for approximately 80 hours no matter how many hours worked,” officials said. “Others who reported to work on time were made to wait before punching in and not paid for that time.”

Authorities started investigating the car wash after getting a referral from the CLEAN Car Wash Campaign, a Los Angeles-based organization that advocates for better working conditions and fair labor practices on behalf of unionized and nonunion car washers in the area, officials said.

When investigators tried to inspect the business’ records on March 4, 2021, they were refused entry despite having an inspection warrant signed by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, officials said.

The inspections were conducted the following week after authorities got more warrants, officials said.

“The audit of payroll records from April 9, 2018, to March 7, 2021, determined that the employer failed to pay workers for all of the hours worked, did not pay workers for waiting times, and did not provide workers with required meal and rest breaks,” officials said.

Of the total citation, $746,061 is payable to workers for unpaid minimum wages and overtime, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties, meal and rest period premiums, penalties for the employer’s failure to pay the workers with itemized wage statements, unpaid contract wages and accrued interest, officials said.

The manager, Jesus Hernandez, and owners, Susan Amini and Reza Albolahrar, will also pay $69,250 in fines to the state, officials said. The fines will be transferred to the state’s general fund.

Hernandez did not respond to a request for comment. The owners could not be reached.

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