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Carwash owners sued by state for $6.6 million for allegedly exploiting workers

State prosecutors filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit Monday against the owners of celebrity dining favorite Koi for allegedly exploiting workers at eight carwashes, including five in Southern California.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court claims members of the Sikder family routinely denied workers at the carwashes that they own minimum wage and overtime, failed to pay wages owed to those who quit or were fired, denied rest and meal breaks and created false time sheets.

The businesses in Fair Oaks, Folsom, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Santa Monica, San Ramon and Venice operated for years without licenses from the labor commissioner, which are required under California law, according to the state attorney general's office.

The defendants, including Sikder Group Inc., ZMS Group Inc. and Sikder Holdings Inc., are being sued for $6.6 million in lost wages and civil penalties, and state prosecutors said they also are seeking an injunction to prevent future violations, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said in a statement.

"While Koi served up yellowtail tartare and Kobe beef carpaccio to Hollywood celebrities, the restaurant's owners routinely denied wages, breaks and overtime pay to workers at their unlicensed carwashes," Brown said in a statement.

An example cited by state prosecutors was the case of Sergio Diaz-Esquivel and Juvenal Diaz-Esquivel, who quit their jobs at the Wash & Go Hand Wash in Irvine after not being paid overtime or for all their hours, despite working seven-day weeks.

In August 2007, they obtained judgments totaling $14,708.24, including penalties for the car wash's willful failure to pay them their wages. The car wash still has not paid them.

Brown said it was in sharp contrast to the money the family earned by owning and operating 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," Brown said.

The eight carwashes named in the lawsuit are: Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica; Crown Valley Car Wash in Laguna Niguel; Gold Rush Auto Spa in Folsom; Gold Rush Auto Spa II in Fair Oaks; Laguna Hills Union 76 Station [Car Wash] in Laguna Hills; Marina Car Wash in Venice; Sponges Car Wash in San Ramon; Wash & Go Hand Wash (also known as Wash & Go Hand Carwash Corp. and Irvine Auto Spa) in Irvine.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Comments () | Archives (22)

Thank you posting the name of those car wash, i will make sure to take my car to one of them next time i need a car wash. The car wash did the right thing by refusing to pay them overtime.

I wish every year was a Gubernatorial Election year...this "justice" thing tastes great!

The problem with going after just this one business is that many are probably doing it. Also the reporting for hourly wage laws signed in by Arnold are onerous to most smaller businesses. If the state really wanted to make a difference they would sue all such businesses.., oh wait that would make things worse in this state.. :-) Perhaps a break in business taxes and regulations would be preferable.

It is truely uncall for a business not to pay its employees. "operated for years without licenses " and the owner is not jailed.

Here we go again. Jerry Brown is punishing everybody that mistreat illegals. He is a champion for illegals.

State of California Attorney General can do a great service when he takes action against the mayors and city councils of sanctuary cities. They are violating California and Federal immigration laws. Or is Jerry Brown pandering for Hispanic votes? Does he want 50 million more illegals in California? Does he want California cities to be like Mexico City where just breathing the air is like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day?
Do Democrats in California want to be associated with Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the ACLU, illegals, terrorists, the Mexican Government and Barach Hussein Obama's jihad against Arizona? With friends like this mob, who would need enemies?

Iwonder if Jerry could work up an indictment against Meg for exploiting her maid and trying to blame him...

Unpaid workers at Marina car wash in Venice might help to explain the terrible service I experienced the last couple of times I went there. I found a much better car wash in Culver City. I feel sorry for the car wash dudes - that's hard work all day for low pay. If they do a good job I tip well - but there's no chance I am going back to Marina.

This is disgusting. I actually know a couple of people that run businesses with shady business practices, so the practice may be more common than thought.

I wish these guys would get some jail time in addition to their fines.

"While Koi served up yellowtail tartare and Kobe beef carpaccio to Hollywood celebrities?" This issue has been around for decades, and Jerry decides to file a lawsuit NOW and focus on a pricey restaurant? Way to make it all about your campaign, Brown. Who's your campaign manager, Gloria Allred? And please tell me you're also investigating whether these workers were illegal and if they paid taxes on their tips. Because that's also breaking the law.

Interesting how Jerry Brown finds things to show he's "tough on crime", just in time for the election... He didn't give much of a darn up until a few moths ago...

I wonder when the DA is going to start going after these street vendors, and food trucks. I mean the law is the law?

You should see how horse racing workers are treated.

how many of these workers are legal? i dont think an "illegal" should have rights. you have to give to get.

this is government mafioso ShakeDown! they are lucky to have a job these days. soon, no one can afford to take cars to a wash!

we should sue the state for expoliting tax payers...

Why dose Jerry brown wait until now to file a lawsuit against these firms is it to get more votes. I think he is just panding to one group myself this should have been taking care of two years ago and these workers would have had their money already. If anything the voters should take their votes and give them to Meg the only one that will create jobs. Brown has already showed his true colors he is only for himself and the BIG UNIONS.

Tough choice in November, a billionaire who knowingly hired an illegal for $23 an hour or a flaming liberal idiot that wants to give thirty million of them American citizenship as a reward for their criminal invasion. Looks like I'll be voting for the lesser of two evils once again.

Who's going to wash the cars now...all of the lazy people Jerry Brown is giving welfare checks too? No thanks, they like their taxpayer funded lazy-man checks way more than work. Do you have a white guy washing your car, Jerry, or cleaning your multi-million dollar house? Are you campaigning against illegals now?

Very conservative of you to wage this campaign against illegals with Gloria Allred at your side! I hope all L.A.tinos realize how Jerry Brown is the real one exploiting the Latino community!!!

...and I hope Koi doesn't have to shut its doors and fire all of those people. Do people not realize how Jerry Brown is actually campaigning against employment and small businesses???

First of all, the lawsuit has nothing to do with race but everything to do with the failure of the employer to pay the minimum wage, overtime, and countless other labor law violations. And since these carwash owners failed to uphold the rights of their employees, they should be held liable and be made to pay the back wages of their aggrieved employees.


Were all those employees legal to work here? Just wondering.

FYI the owners of KOI LA don't even own the car washes. Random!


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