A restaurant operator and its contractor must pay $4.57 million after a subcontractor was found to have underpaid 559 janitorial workers at several of the restaurant’s San Diego and Orange County, Calif.-area locations, the California Department of Industrial Relations reported.
Restaurant firm Cheesecake Factory Restaurants Inc. hired Americlean Janitorial Services Corp. to handle janitorial work, that firm, in turn, subcontracted the work to Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning.
Magic Touch will pay the workers $3.94 million in minimum wages, overtime, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties and meal and rest period premiums, according to the department.
“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,” Labor Commissioner Julie A. 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.”
California law holds client employers that obtain labor from a subcontractor responsible for their workplace violations, according to the department. This includes owed wages, damages, penalties and workers’ comp violations.
Janitorial workers in this case would begin their shifts around midnight and work without proper meal or rest breaks. They would not be released until Cheesecake Factory managers reviewed their work by going through walkthroughs. Those would often result in more work and the employees working up to 10 hours of unpaid overtime each week.