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California Labor Commissioner cites companies for janitorial wage theft violations

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office has found Cheesecake Factory Restaurants Inc. liable in a $4.57 million wage theft case that underpaid 559 janitorial workers managed by Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning. Americlean Janitorial Services Corp., the Cheesecake Factory’s janitorial contractor that subcontracted the work to Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning, is also liable for the wage theft, which occurred at eight locations in Orange and San Diego Counties.


The affected workers are due $3.94 million in minimum wages, overtime, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties and meal and rest period premiums. “This case illustrates common wage theft practices in the janitorial industry, where businesses have contracted and subcontracted to avoid responsibility for ensuring workers are paid what they are owed,” said California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su.


“Client businesses can no longer shield themselves from liability for wage theft through multiple layers of contracts. Our enforcement benefits not only protect the workers who deserve to be paid, but also legitimate janitorial businesses that are underbid by wage thieves.” Investigators found that the janitorial workers began their shifts around midnight and worked until morning without proper meal or rest break periods. After working for eight hours, the Magic Touch workers were not released until Cheesecake Factory kitchen managers conducted walkthroughs to review their work.


These walkthroughs would frequently lead to additional tasks that the janitorial workers had to complete before they were released for the day. Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning owner Zulma Villegas must pay $3,936,359 to the workers for unpaid minimum wages and overtime, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties and meal and rest period violations. The citations also include $632,750 for failure to provide properly itemized pay stubs and other civil penalties. During the Labor Commissioner’s investigation which began in December 2016, Villegas changed her business name and began operating as Z’s Commercial Quality Cleaning. Both businesses are subject to the citations.


Citations against the Cheesecake Factory Restaurants Inc. and Americlean Janitorial Services Corp., or DBA Allied National Services, for $4,206,351 were issued under Assembly Bill 1897 (California Labor Code Section 2810.3), a law signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2014, which took effect on January 1, 2015.


The law holds client employers that obtain labor from a subcontractor responsible for their workplace violations. A client employer may be liable for the subcontractor’s owed wages, damages and penalties, as well as workers’ compensation violations.


DID YOU KNOW? Janitorial service companies operating in California are also required to register with the Labor Commissioner’s Office by July 1 under the Property Services Workers Protection Act, a new law that aims to protect workers in the janitorial industry.


Source: PR Newswire