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2 Los Angeles carwashes to pay more than $1 million to employees who claimed wage theft

2 Los Angeles carwashes to pay more than $1 million to employees who claimed wage theft
Silver Lake Car Wash and Catalina Car Wash allegedly paid its employees as little as $4.50 per hour. Pictured is Silver Lake Car Wash (Los Angeles city attorney's office)

Two Los Angeles carwashes must pay more than $1 million to employees who said they were paid as little as $4.50 an hour, the Los Angeles city attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

Silver Lake Car Wash Inc., at 3595 Beverly Blvd., and Catalina Car Wash Inc., at 4000 Beverly, will offer between $17,000 and $40,000 in back pay to employees who reported wage theft, City Atty. Mike Feuer said. As part of the settlement, the two businesses and their supervisor, Yoosef Aminpour, also agreed to pay $519,027 in civil penalties and $35,996 in attorney fees.

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“Think of the magnitude of those awards,” Feuer said. “This is going to change the lives of the workers we sought to protect in this case.”

The settlement comes nearly a year after the city attorney’s office filed a lawsuit alleging employees at the two carwashes were paid as little as $45 a day for 10 hours or more of work with no overtime pay or breaks. The suit said the two businesses falsified payroll records to underreport the work hours of about 60 employees.

Workers also said they had to buy their own boots and gloves because the carwashes did not provide safety equipment.

Feuer said the allegations were not proved in court and the settlement comes from an informal agreement.

“It’s very challenging to expect the average worker to have the guts to come forward,” said Feuer, who commended employees who made the initial reports and urged other workers to speak up about wage theft. “We need to embrace them … and let them know we’ll give them the help they need.”

Trinidad Dominguez, one of the employees, said he was grateful for the outcome.

“Thank you to the team that’s here,” he said in Spanish, addressing reporters at a news conference. “I can’t say more. I am completely happy. Thank you. That’s all I can say.”

Dominguez, who still works at one of the carwashes, didn’t answer questions about the working conditions at the businesses or other allegations in the lawsuit.

Feuer declined to say whether immigration status may have deterred employees from speaking out.

The two businesses will be monitored for four years to ensure they comply with wage laws and provide necessary safety equipment to employees. A violation during that time is subject to contempt of court, Feuer said.

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