Around the Industry
Lawyer: Carwashes may face seven-figure judgment
SANTA MONICA, CA — Another lawsuit has been filed by carwash workers here alleging withheld overtime pay and poor working conditions. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) filed the class-action suit on the behalf of four workers at carwashes owned by Bijan, Edna and Kambiz Damavandi. According to the suit, the family owns Lincoln Millennium Car Wash, Santa Monica Car Wash and Bumble Bee Car Wash.
The suit alleges that the family forced workers to arrive early, but they could only clock in when there were enough cars to wash. The suit also said that employees were not allowed proper breaks for water and lunch.
Marcial Hernandez, a worker for eight years at Lincoln Millennium Car Wash, said he often worked 50 hours a week and was paid for only 40.
A MALDEF attorney said the total number of Damavandi employees to be included in the suit may be more than 100, and, in that case, damages sought in unpaid wages could move into seven figures.
The lawsuit was announced at a press conference outside of Santa Monica Car Wash which included clergy, unions and political leaders.
In the meantime, officials are looking for ways to monitor carwashes with city contracts to make sure they pay fair wages and respect workers’ rights. Also, the mayor and city council members are requesting that city staff evaluate all carwashes in the running for any city contracts.
Carwash hosts soldier’s holiday homecoming
OLYMPIA, WA — A soldier returning from Afghanistan surprised his five sons with a homecoming at a carwash here.
Major Darrell Rasor of the U.S. Army made his first stop at the Wave Car Wash after returning from four months of service. The carwash workers were in on the surprise, and, when Rasor’s wife and sons arrived, the manager told them they had been selected as the wash’s customers of the day. As the kids ate cupcakes, Rasor jumped into the car so he could surprise them when the car exited the wash.
Carwash may be deposed in SUA wrongful death suit
KANSAS CITY, MO ― A wrongful death lawsuit was filed on behalf of Rosland Watson, who was killed in November 2009 after a Toyota Land Cruiser unexpectedly accelerated while at a carwash here.
At issue is whether the Grandview Auto Wash was undercapitalized at the time of the accident and could have done more to protect people from out-of-control cars. One measure would have been to put safety barriers in place.
Attorneys for Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP have served U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, who allegedly has some sort of ownership role with the carwash, which is owned by The Cleaver Co. LLC. Apparently, Cleaver and The Cleaver Co. LLC defaulted on a small business loan in 2002 which was worth $1.3 million.
Cleaver stated to the public that he has nothing to do with the carwash and his attorney has stated that the congressman should be left alone. Watson’s family named other defendants in the lawsuit and have already settled with the driver of the Toyota. Toyota has already been dismissed from the case.
Proposed bill would require carwash licensing
NEW YORK CITY — A bill that would force carwash operators to obtain an annual license or face up to a $15,000 fine was introduced by local lawmakers here. To get a license, operators would have to divulge details of company ownership; certify compliance with local, state and federal laws; and obtain a $300,000 bond to cover unpaid fees and penalties. Also, a business could be denied a license based on past violations or unpaid taxes.
The bill is the latest part of a campaign headed up by community and labor organizations meant to transform carwash working conditions in New York City. The campaign has lead to cries for unionization, organized protests and carwash owner subpoenas.
In addition to the legislation, the City Council also held a hearing on working conditions at carwashes. In 2008, state investigators found nearly 80 percent of operators in the city violated minimum wage and overtime laws.