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Exploited carwash workers receive $5 million settlement

ELIZABETH, N.J. — Workers at a hand carwash were receiving only $3.50 an hour with no breaks or overtime.


ELIZABETH, N.J. — According to www.nj.com, workers at four carwashes in New York and New Jersey received a $5 million settlement for back wages they were owed by their employer after a years-long legal fight.

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The New Jersey workers employed at Bayway Hand Car Wash on South Broad St. in Elizabeth, the only one wash former owner Jose Vazquez leased, earned an average of $3.50 to $4 per hour, some for decades, the article continued.

The other three locations that Vazquez owned were in Harlem, the Bronx and on Broadway in Manhattan, New York, the article noted.

Workers at the Manhattan location were transported daily to the Elizabeth shop, the article added.

“The New Jersey workers were the most exploited of all,” Steven Arenson, an attorney who represented the workers, said.

Arenson added that they would show up at 7 a.m. at the Manhattan location, take a 45-minute ride to Elizabeth and then work for 12 hours, earning $35 to $40 per day in cash with no lunch break.


On days when business was slow, they would only earn $5 or $10 for the day, Arenson noted.

Arenson also said that one nearly 70-year-old worker would wear three pairs of pants and two facemasks because of the winter, and the boss upheld him as a model employee because he kept crackers in his pockets so he didn’t have to stop working to eat.

The “mostly,” documented workers emigrated from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nigeria and elsewhere, the article stated.

The case began with 18 workers who won a $1.65 million settlement in June 2016, the article noted; however, during that case, Vazquez filed for bankruptcy, despite owning $20 million in real estate and having $1.2 million in cash in a safe at his home, so court-appointed trustees took control of the businesses and Vazquez’s personal finances.


During this process, the court discovered 88 other workers who had been cheated out of fair wages, and this group agreed to a more than $5 million settlement in August, the article added.

The settlement was officially approved on Nov. 7th, and in December, veteran employees received checks for about $90,000 while others received more than $60,000 in back wages and overtime pay, the article continued.

“This is life-changing money. It’s a vindication of the rights of these workers. And it’s a great example for other workers that they have rights,” Arenson said.

Read the original article here.

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