Two car wash workers have teamed up with an immigrant rights group to start a class action lawsuit against their Grant City employer, alleging a host of wage and labor law violations.
According to the lawsuit, Clean Touch Car Wash at 2093 Hylan Blvd. and its owner, Joseph Scanni of Charleston, didn’t pay the workers minimum wage, dipped into their tips, didn’t pay overtime hours and didn’t keep proper records for their employees.
The lawsuit, filed by Ovidio Lopes Morales and Mateo Lares Michocoj, was filed in Brooklyn Federal Court late last month. They’re being represented by activist group Make The Road New York, and attorney Justin M. Swartz, of Outten & Golden LLP in Manhattan.
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Scanni did not return messages seeking comment.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a campaign by Make the Road, another advocacy group, New York Community Groups, and a retail workers union, that centers on working conditions for car wash employees citywide.
In a written statement, Make the Road lawyer Julia Dietz said, “This lawsuit shows that car wash workers in New York will no longer stay silent in the face of wage theft. Car wash employees, who are exposed to harsh chemicals and work under difficult conditions, will fight to hold owners accountable and demand fair wages and benefits and dignity on the job.”
Lares worked with Clean Touch for four years, until he was fired in 2009, while Lopes was employed there from 2000 until April of last year, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that Clean Touch and Scanni made the two employees work more than 40 hours a week, and often more than 10 hours a day, without proper time-and-a-half pay. On slow days, the company would send them home with only one or two hours pay, even though law requires they must be paid “four hours minimum call-in pay.”
Swartz said they were paid $5 an hour plus tips. Except, according to the lawsuit, their tips were divvied up among other workers, including managers and cashiers, “who are not regularly or customarily eligible to receive customer gratuities,” the lawsuit claims. The state’s minimum wage for Lares and Lopes should have been $7.15 an hour from 2007 to July 2009, then $7.25 an hour after July 24, 2009, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also alleges Clean Touch failed to keep proper records, or provide wage notices in either English or the workers’ primary language, Spanish.