The owners of popular car wash chains must pay hundreds of their workers more than $2.2 million for underpaid wages. Credit: Make the Road/Flickr
Owners of a series of New York City car wash chains must pay hundreds of their workers more than $2.2 million for underpaid wages.
The news came after a settlement was reached between the owners and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who hailed today's as a message to workers that the state has their back.
"These agreements will ensure that the car washes clean up their acts to comply with the law," Schneiderman said in a statement. "And they ensure that New York businesses who play by the rules can do so on a level playing field."
Backpay for about 1,000 workers isn't the only cost to the car wash operators, who would skimp on worker's owed time for overtime and breaks. They must also pay $513,000 to the state Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance Division and about $1.2 million to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.
In total, John Lage, Michael Lage and Fernando Magalhaes — who combined owned some 21 locations around the five boroughs — will pay out some $3.9 million.
That, however, doesn't include whatever it will cost for the owners to arrange an independent monitor their for up to three years and reporting results to Schneiderman's office.
"We have won money that this company had stolen from our wages, which sends a strong message to all car wash owners that the days of abuse and exploitation are over," said car washer Miguel Portillo in a statement. "Today, justice was served."
Local politicians who have previously supported alongside many of the city's car wash workers — largely made up of members from various immigrant communities — stood alongside the attorney general today.
“It's hard enough to make it in New York," said Public Advocate Letitia Lames. "To do so while your hard-earned wages are being stolen is unimaginable."