SANTA MONICA (CBS) — A class-action lawsuit announced on Monday alleged unlawful labor practices at three Southland car washes.

The lawsuit announced by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) claims employees were forced to work without breaks or overtime pay, and among other alleged violations.

Workers from the Millennium Car Wash in Santa Monica, Santa Monica Car Wash and Detailing, and Bumble Bee Car Wash were represented as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which seeks an undisclosed settlement amount estimated to reach into “seven figures”.

The employees — who identified themselves as “carwasheros” — apparently decided to file the suit in anticipation of extended car wash hours during the hotter summer months when they fear they could face more pressure to accept these “illegal practices”.

In addition to failure to properly compensate their workers, the companies allegedly required all employees to purchase their own work materials and tried to conceal any unlawful practices by intentionally manipulating work records, according to the lawsuit.

“We are here to send a message that you cannot continue to act this way,” said Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

Durazo encouraged demonstrators and others in attendance to patronize Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica, which she claimed was the first union car wash in the nation.

The lawsuit seeks to recover any lost wages and other benefits unlawfully denied to the plaintiffs, as well as a court order that would prohibit the car washes from engaging in future unlawful labor practices.


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