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California Holds Cheesecake Factory Liable for Unpaid Janitorial Wages

The Cheesecake Factory contracts out for the janitorial services in its restaurants. However, a California state law requires that a company engaging in that practice maintain some of the liability when the employees doing the cleaning do not receive their fair wages.
California’s Labor Commissioner conducted a three-year investigation into practices occurring at many Cheesecake Factor locations in Orange County and San Diego. During the investigation, it was revealed that the janitors worked beginning at midnight and through until morning without appropriate meal and rest break periods. Even after eight hours, they had to continue working while managers assigned them additional tasks in the morning. This treatment added up to $4.57 million in wage violations. The janitors were aided in their efforts to seek recompense by two non-profits that support low-wage workers without union representation.
The Cheesecake Factory subcontracted its cleaning to Americlean Janitorial Services Corp., a Minneapolis firm doing business as Allied National Services Inc. Those workers were managed by San Diego-based Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning. The owner of the San Diego company is primarily liable for the wage violations. But under California Assembly Bill 1897, client employers may be held liable when a subcontractor owes wages, damages and penalties. “Client businesses can no longer shield themselves from liability for wage theft through multiple layers of contracts. Our enforcement benefits not only the workers who deserve to be paid but also legitimate janitorial business that are underbid by wage thieves.” Thus, if the state cannot collect from the Magic Touch owner, the Cheesecake Factory and Americlean must pay the sizable fines.