A southern California car wash mogul, Vahid David Delrahim, will pay back $4.2 million in back wages and penalties after allegedly cheating 800 workers out of overtime pay and destroying evidence. The decision followed a two-year court battle with federal authorities.
The Los Angeles native failed to provide workers at a dozen different California locations with minimum wage or overtime payment. The car washes were located in Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. The consent decree was approved by the U.S. District Court Judge Fernando Olguin ordering Delrahim to pay:
· $1.9 million in back wages
· $1.9 million in damages to workers
· $400,000 in civil penalties
The case is being called a landmark case as it sends a powerful message to employers that the Department of Labor will use powerful law enforcement and litigation tools to protect employees and level the playing field for law-abiding employers. According to the judgment, Delrahim ordered his employees (many of whom are Spanish speakers unfamiliar with U.S. and/or California labor law) to work off the clock at the start of each shift. He also ordered them to clock out when business was slow but remain at the car wash for when business picked back up. This resulted in many hours on site without payment.
The back wages ordered by the court cover a period from 2013 to the present. It’s possible that more workers will be added to the case resulting in more money as the identity of all workers at all 12 car washes is not currently known. Delrahim was told to provide more names, addresses and workplace records within 30 days. The info was originally requested by the prosecutors in the case in 2016. The judgment will result in the employees receiving over $10,000 in back wages.
If you have questions about off the clock work or overtime payment, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.