Category Archives: Unpaid Wages

Car Wash Employees Receive up to $200,000 each in Unpaid Wages Settlement

Eighteen immigrant car wash employees in New York and New Jersey received more than $91,000 each as part of a federal court settlement for unpaid wages, making it the biggest per-worker recovery in the car wash industry, lawyers said on Tuesday.

The agreement awarded the final part of a $1.65 million settlement to 18 workers who were earning less than $20,000 a year at 4 car washes belonging to a single owner, according to one of the attorney who brought the suit in 2011.

According to an attorney representing the workers, each worker on average will receive over $91,000, with the highest being close to $200,000 for two people who were employed the longest. With $750,000 already paid last year, the remaining $900,000 was disbursed on Tuesday.

Attorneys representing the defendant declined comment.

“For all immigrants, all workers, who toil under hardship, this case stands as a resounding message that the American law does protect the worker,” Arenson told a news conference.
These employees at the New York car washes were paid $50 to $70 for 12-hour shifts without a break, according to the lawsuit, well below the minimum wage, at the time of the violations, $9 per hour in New York. In New Jersey, where the minimum wage was $8.38 per hour, workers were paid $35 a day for a 10-hour shift.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Car Wash Accountability Act into law in 2015 to protect workers. Car wash owners have sued the city over the act, claiming it gives preferential treatment to unions.

Low-wage workers nationwide have been demanding higher pay, including fast-food workers who staged protests and strikes recently to support of a $15 minimum wage. Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders championed a $15 minimum wage in his campaign.
In 2015, the New York attorney general’s office sued Domino’s Pizza Inc for wage theft by franchisees.

One of the car wash plaintiffs, Michel Rodriguez, said he began working at a J.V. Car Wash location about week after emigrating from the Dominican Republic.”It was crazy,” Rodriguez, 29, told the news conference. “For you to start working 7 in the morning though 7 p.m. for 12 hours straight with no lunch break in a very, very cold winter.”

Bank of America To Pay $73 Million To Settle Wage-And-Hour MDL

In December 2013, a federal judge in Kansas signed off on Bank of America’s $73 million settlement to end a multidistrict litigation accusing it of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by requiring more than 180,000 hourly employees to work off the clock.

U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum approved the opt-in settlement, noting that while the court had conditionally certified an opt-in class of retail banking center employees last year, he had expressed reservations about final certification.

“Thus, plaintiffs faced formidable obstacles on the road to ultimate success in this litigation,” Judge Lungstrum wrote. “This settlement fairly and reasonably accounts for those risks.”

The settlement fund allows for payments to the approximately 185,000 nonexempt hourly workers employed by Bank of America nationwide in a retail banking or call center since October 2006. The workers will be paid proportionally based on the numbers of hours they worked since that time and their base hourly wage, but will receive at least $20, according to the order approving the settlement.

“Plaintiffs candidly admit that while $73 million is a substantial sum, individual recoveries in this case will be relatively modest in light of the size of the class and the nature of the harm alleged,” the order said. But given Bank of America’s intent to appeal the conditional certification, “plaintiffs’ counsel in all likelihood achieved the best result reasonably obtainable.”

The settlement would end workers’ allegations that the bank maintains a uniform, companywide policy requiring nonexempt employees to perform off-the-clock work in violation of federal and state wage-and-hour laws.

According to plaintiffs, the bank’s restrictive labor budgets and centralized scheduling process, coupled with its pressure to manage overtime aggressively, created a companywide environment that required nonexempt employees, working in often-understaffed branches, to perform off-the-clock work.

One-quarter of the settlement, or $18.25 million, will be used as attorneys’ fees. The plaintiffs’ counsel will also receive a separate award for costs and expenses capped at $900,000. That was a reasonable amount, the court said because the 34,000 hours plaintiffs’ counsel claimed to spend on the litigation would have resulted in $16.5 million in fees based on their hourly rates.

At most, $595,000 will go to Kurtzman Carlson Consultants LLC to administer the settlement.

Part of the overall settlement fund will pay the California Labor Workforce Development Agency to settle claims under the California Labor Code Private Attorney General Act, according to the order.

Plaintiffs’ liaison counsel George Hanson of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP told Law360 that “the matter was fairly resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.”

A Bank of America spokeswoman said the company was “pleased” with the settlement.

“Bank of America denies the allegations but agreed to settle the claims to avoid further legal costs,” Betty Riess said.