Lozano's Brushless Car Wash, which operates in Mountain View and Sunnyvale, has been ordered by the federal government to cough up $268,501 in back pay to 270 workers.
"I'm pleased that the Wage and Hour Division's enforcement efforts assisted these vulnerable workers," said Susana Rincon, district director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, in a press release.
Investigators found that the company was telling its workers not to clock in until the first customer arrived, which could take 15 minutes to an hour. Workers arrived at a set time but were not paid for their time waiting for the first customer, according to investigators.
Lozano's has agreed to pay the workers — 270 of them — the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour for all of the unpaid work hours. Those who worked at the car wash between Dec. 10, 2006 and Dec. 6, 2008 are eligible for back pay and should call (408) 291-7730, Ext. 12. Rincon said workers will not be asked of their legal status in the U.S.
"That is not something we look at," she said. "If they worked in the U.S. they are entitled to whatever back wages they are due."
A call to the owners of Lozano's was not returned, but a competitor called the Voice to gloat a little over the news.
"Lozano's has been charging less for car washes than I have and now we know why," said Aaron Zeff, CEO of Harv's Car Wash, also on El Camino in Mountain View.
Zeff said car washes throughout the state were investigated, including Harv's.
"They just walk onto your property with a representative of Cal OSHA and representatives of the DA's office," he said. "They literally go through every bit of paper you have and talk to all of your employees."