Ex-carwash worker wins $80,000 lawsuit over labor violations
Thursday, June 23, 2011
- Organization: Los Angeles Times
A former Los Angeles carwash worker has won an $80,000 lawsuit charging that his ex-employers forced him for years to show up for work early in the morning but barred him from clocking in until hours later. Tomas Rodriguez , 41, of Hidalgo, Mexico, filed the lawsuit in October against Handy J Carwash in the 12000 block of West Washington Boulevard. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Mooney ruled recently that the owners -- Shariar Shoehed, Rafi Shoehed, Scott Arditi and carwash manager Juan Lucatero -- were liable for $50,000 in back wages for failing to provide proper employment records and an additional $30,000 in damages.
In a telephone interview, Rodriguez said his and his co-workers’ hours were reduced several years ago after the owners brought in others to work only for tips. “With fewer hours, I didn’t make enough to eat or pay the rent,” he said, adding that he resorted to collecting recyclable cans, bottles and metal to make ends meet. He said the owners intimidated workers with threats of firing and calling federal immigration officials. “At the time, I didn’t know much about my rights. You come from your country with your eyes closed,” Rodriguez said. “They had us all intimidated.” Eight other workers involved in the suit eventually dropped out due to the intimidation, he said. “This is really a chronic practice in the carwash industry,” said Chloe Osmer, organizer with the Clean Carwash Campaign, a three-year effort by unions to organize carwash workers. “Workers are asked to show up early in the morning but they’re not allowed to clock in for two or three hours.” “This is why the state of California is bankrupt, because of frivolous lawsuits,” said Arditi, a Handy J owner. (click on link to read full story)