The Cheesecake Factory has recently been found by the California Labor Commissioner of cheating over five hundred janitors of wages amounting to $4.57 million in unpaid minimum wages and overtime, meal and rest period violations, as well as damages, waiting-time penalties and a failure to provide itemized pay stubs. The investigation began in late 2016 and spanned up until the start of June this year.
All of the janitorial duties were subcontracted by the Cheesecake Factory to a third party known as Americlean Janitorial Services Corp., a Minneapolis firm doing business as Allied National Services Inc. The workers were then managed by San Diego-based Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning, whose owner, Zulma Villegas, must pay the $4.57 million, Labor Commissioner. Shortly after the investigation began the company renamed themselves to Z’s Commercial Quality Cleaning. This company is also being held liable for unpaid wages.
If there is a failure from the state itself in being able to collect this money from the cleaning company the amount will then have to be paid by the Cheesecake Factory itself alongside the national janitorial firm.
Since 2015 companies in California are held liable for paying any workplace damages even if the work was outsourced to a third party company. This true for a subcontractor’s owed wages, damages and penalties, as well as workers’ compensation violations.
Labor Commissioner Julie Su said “This case illustrates common wage theft practices in the janitorial industry, where businesses have contracted and subcontracted to avoid responsibility for ensuring workers are paid what they are owed,” Su said.
“Client businesses can no longer shield themselves from liability for wage theft through multiple layers of contracts. Our enforcement benefits not only the workers who deserve to be paid but also legitimate janitorial businesses that are underbid by wage thieves.”
During the investigation it was found that the janitors worked absurd hours. They started a shift at midnight and would not be allowed to leave the premises in the morning until proper checks had been conducted by Cheesecake bosses. They worked without proper breaks or time for food to eat.
The checks often resulted in additional tasks which would then result in further work which on average would amount to ten hours of unpaid work. Sidney Greathouse, Vice President, Legal Services at The Cheesecake Factory, said in a statement, “We take matters of this nature very seriously. We are continuing to review the allegations and will respond to the wage citation within the time provided.”
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