Santa Monica News
Car Wash Pleads In Labor Violation Case
By Alex Nochez
Nov 14, 2013 - 6:57:43 AM

SANTA MONICA — The Wilshire West Car Wash pled no contest to several charges leveled against them involving labor violations against its employees on Wednesday, November 13.
Wilshire West Car Wash


The Santa Monica City Attorney's Office announced in a statement that the car wash located at 2320 Wilshire Boulevard, pled No Contest to six misdemeanor charges. The business was originally facing 11 counts.


“This is an excellent result,” said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky in a statement.


Wilshire West Car Wash, as part of the plea agreement, must provide back pay to all 75 affected former and current employees of the business that covers the three year duration of the investigation, a sum that equals $656,547. In addition, the company must also pay fines of $8,000, or $16,000 if the business violates its three year probation while also covering investigative fees.


In relation to the charges that were filed against them, Wilshire West Car Wash during the probation period must pay its employees for all hours worked, which includes stand-by time. In addition, employees can never be forced to work off the clock, must be given a meal break of at least thirty minutes, and must be given a paid 10 minute break. The business is forbidden from altering time and payroll records in an effort to reduce the hours actually worked by its employees, according to labor laws.


The criminal complaints were lodged against the business on January 13, 2013. The investigation was a joint venture that was aided by the Santa Monica Consumer Protection Unit, the California Labor Commissioner's Office, and the United Sates Department of Labor. Over the course of the three year investigation, it was found that the company had conspired to cheat their employees out of pay through a number of different ways, including altering time records to make it appear that employees worked less than they did and coercing employees to sign declarations saying that they had indeed received paid breaks.


Other allegations included making employees pay for cable when they were not allowed to watch television and forcing them to pay a fee for towel laundering.


General manager Gary Pendelton and supervisor Rigoberto Torrres entered no contest pleas of their own. Pendelton will have to perform 120 hours of community service within the next year, while Torres will have to do 12 days of hard labor within the next year. If either man is found to violate this order, their punishments may double.


“The workers get full back pay, some over $21,000 each,” Radinsky said in the statement. “The company has to clean up its act going forward, or the court will make sure of that.”

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