According to the AG, the Sikder family routinely denied wages, breaks and overtime pay to workers at their unlicensed car washes. . "Today's lawsuit seeks to end this widespread pattern of worker exploitation," Brown said, capping a five-month investigation of eight Sikder-owned car washes in Fair Oaks, Folsom, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Santa Monica, San Ramon and Venice.
Investigators interviewed more than 80 workers and found the car washes routinely denied workers minimum wage and overtime, failed to pay wages owed to those who quit or were terminated, denied rest and meal breaks, and created false records of time worked.
The car washes required employees to report to work hours early and be available, unpaid, until business picked up. When workers were paid, many received paychecks that could not be cashed because of insufficient company funds. Additionally, the car washes operated for years without licenses from the Labor Commissioner, which are required under California law.
Brown's lawsuit, which alleges that defendants violated California Business & Professions Code section 17200 and Labor Code sections 203 and 203.1, seeks $6.6 million to pay back lost wages and civil penalties, and an injunction to prevent the defendants from committing similar violations in the future.
In addition to their car wash businesses, members of the Sikder family own and operate Koi, a high-end Japanese restaurant with locations in West Hollywood, New York, Las Vegas and Bangkok. The restaurants gross millions of dollars annually and are regularly featured in gossip magazines and on television shows, including HBO's "Entourage," because of their celebrity clientele.
The eight car washes named in today's lawsuit are:
-Bonus Car Wash located at 2800 Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica
California's 1,500 car washes employ a total of 28,000 workers per month, according to recent California Employment Development Department figures. One third of these car washes are unlicensed, according to a 2008 report by the state Labor Commissioner, and have not posted a bond to ensure payment of wages, as required by law.