This Inglewood carwash paid workers $7 an hour, state officials say. The penalty: Over $900,000 in back wages.
The incident highlighted a problem for low-wage workers: Employers often try to inflate their labor costs by overstating salaries. And even when they’re willing to pay workers a living wage — as Inglewood’s carwash did — the workers find themselves on the hook for unpaid wages.
“The law and all available information indicate that the actual rate of pay was $7.00 per hour for any hours worked during the period of time that the wages were not paid,” said Brian V. Smith, director of the Los Angeles office of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
As of June 4, the carwash owners agreed to pay $1.1 million in back wages to at least 2,500 employees. But the amount of the backpay award will be reduced to $350,000 at the end of April, according to a statement issued by the carwash. When it begins its payments on or around June 4, the owners are promising to keep the workers on the job.
More than 80 percent of Americans say it’s important or very important to them that they have a job, and 62 percent said they would be more likely to hire someone younger than them if they could choose someone who is not in a high-paying job, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released last week.
A carwash worker told the Los Angeles Times that it turned out that one of the employees had a union card and worked at a lower minimum wage than the others. Because that worker is younger and, therefore, more likely to have a job, the carwash chose to give him more hours and, in turn, paid him more.
‘They told us we were doing a lot more work than what we were actually doing,’ says employee
The worker, who asked