SoCal Janitors Receive $4.57 Million for Cheesecake Factory Wage Theft

by Norman B. Blumenthal on August 10, 2018

blumenthal nordrehaug bhowmik de blouw llp, california employment law, california employment law attorneys, california wage theft lawsuit, California wage theft suit, California wage and hour, wage and hour lawsuit, wage and hour suitAccording to a 2016 state law, businesses and subcontractors must pay fines for labor law violations. Based on this law, The Cheesecake Factory and its janitorial subcontractor are required to pay 559 Southern California janitors $4.5 million in lost wages and fines.  The popular restaurant chain was cited and fined (along with its janitorial subcontractor) for illegal business practices in 2014. The state found the subcontractor in violation of a number of labor laws: paying less than minimum wage, failing to pay overtime, forcing workers to work longer without pay, not providing proper meal and rest breaks.

The Cheesecake Factory’s janitorial subcontractor, Americlean Janitorial Services Corp., subcontracted Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning to service the restaurant locations in Brea, Newport Beach, Irvine, Mission Viejo, Huntington Beach and three different San Diego locations. The investigations covered a three-year period, but Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, a janitorial industry watch group, discovered additional unpaid wages throughout the last 2 decades totaling $70 million.

It is alleged that janitor started shifts at midnight and worked until morning with no breaks – yet breaks are required by law. Workers for Magic Touch were not released to go home until their work had been inspected by Cheesecake Factory kitchen managers. The inspections often led to additional/unpaid tasks for the janitors. During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that the janitors logged up to 10 hours of unpaid overtime per week. Owner of Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning, Zulma Villegas, will pay $3,939,359 to workers due to these violations. In addition, Villegas will pay $632,750 for civil penalties (i.e. improper filing and itemized pay stubs). Villegas recently changed her business name to Z’s Commercial Quality Cleaning, but both businesses will remain subject to the citations listed.

The Cheesecake Factory case is the first to fall under the new law, SB 588, from 2016. The law was authored by state senator Kevin De Leon and holds parties accountable for labor law violations.

If you have concerns regarding unpaid overtime or if you are not receiving meal and rest breaks as required by state and federal labor law, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

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