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This week 22 former Long Beach car wash workers finally got their paychecks after a five-year wage theft investigation. And thanks to new law that took effect this year, the Labor Commissioner’s Office recovered more than $282,000 for wage theft violations for the car wash workers who worked in Long Beach.

The investigation into Classic Castle Car Wash, Inc., which operates Klassic Car Wash & Detail Center and Castle Carwash in Long Beach began in 2017 after receiving a referral from the CLEAN Car Wash Campaign.

Investigators found that some workers were forced to wait up to three hours before clocking in, while others were only paid for hours when they performed car wash duties and were asked to remain onsite without pay when it wasn’t busy. The citations issued in 2017 for wage theft violations totaled $370,644.

Classic Castle Car Wash, Inc. appealed the citations, and a notice of finding issued by the hearing officer amended the total citations due to $241,641 on December 4, 2020. Classic Castle Car Wash, Inc. made payments on the citation totaling $54,272.93 from 2017 to 2020 but eventually stopped making payments.

In 2021, SB 572 (Hertzberg), the “enforcement lien” bill added Labor Code 90.8, which went into effect in January 2022. It authorized the Labor Commissioner to create, as an alternative to a judgment lien, a lien on real property to secure amounts due under any final citation, findings or decision. The bill requires the Labor Commissioner to include specified information on the certificate of lien to be recorded on the relevant party’s real property and to issue a certificate of release once the amount due, including any interest and costs, has been paid.

After a judgment was entered for the case at the end of 2021, workers learned that the business was going to be sold and reported this to the CLEAN Carwash Worker Center, which informed the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

On June 17, 2022, the Labor Commissioner’s Office recorded a certificate of lien after the enforcement lien bill went into effect in 2022. Classic Castle Car Wash, Inc. had been named in the citations, so the Labor Commissioner’s Office was able to file a lien on the owner’s real property to ensure workers were paid.

One month later, the Labor Commissioner received payment on the Classic Castle Car Wash citations.

The $282,000 recovered will pay workers approximately $229,000 for the overtime and minimum wages, liquidated damages and waiting time penalties owed; $53,000 in civil penalties will go to the state. The monies were secured after a lien on real property was filed by the Labor Commissioner’s Office on Classic Castle Car Wash, Inc.

The new lien authority provides a practical tool to recover owed wages,” said Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower. “It has simplified and expedited the process to get into the pockets of workers and their families the money that is rightfully theirs. These courageous workers reported the wage theft and kept us informed of actions by the car wash owners, which ensured we could ultimately hold the employer accountable and ensure they received their stolen wages.”