Queens Car Wash Workers Sue for Wages

The car wash industry employs many Latino workers (Photo via Queens Latino)

The car wash industry employs many Latino workers (Photo via Queens Latino)

Queens Latino reports that workers at a busy car wash in Queens have sued the owner to recover some $400,000 owed them.

In the suit, the workers, some of whom have been employed at the site for more than two decades, say they were paid at a rate of $6 or $7 an hour, below the legal minimum wage, and were often required to work 60- to 70-hour weeks without any overtime pay. The suit was filed in federal court in Brooklyn against against A.J.A. Car Wash Inc., Merrick Magic Enterprises Inc., and owner Jasbir Obhan.

“Wage theft continues at epidemic proportions in the car wash industry in New York City,” said Make the Road New York attorney Elizabeth Joynes. “We want to ensure that the most vulnerable workers – including low-wage car wash workers who work long shifts day in and day out through the coldest days of winter and hottest days of summer — understand their rights, and continue to come forward to hold their employers accountable for stealing their hard-earned wages.”

Worker Miguel Yax, 34, of Queens, has worked at A.J.A. Car Wash for more than 15 years and is still earning below the minimum wage. “Throughout the time I have worked there, there have been very difficult times because I have a 7-year-old son and family to support with such low wages living in such an expensive city,”  Yax said. “I generally worked six days a week for over 70 hours a week but the boss doesn’t pay us any overtime. I hope that my coworkers and I are able to get all of the wages our boss stole from us.”

The City Council recently passed a law protecting workers in the car wash industry from precisely such wage theft. The law goes into effect at the end of the year. For more details on the lawsuit, go to Queens Latino.

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