Almost every time you send a PAGA notice to the LWDA, you'll never hear back from them. If you are thinking about taking on a car wash, however, you will pique their interest. Almost every month, the Labor Commissioner toots her horn about car wash raids.
July 21, 2008: Officials with the State Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (Labor Commissioner’s Office) issued 47 citations totaling $356,200 in fines to car wash businesses in Los Angeles and Orange counties as part of an ongoing effort to address illegal operations in the underground economy. As part of the recent two-day enforcement sweep, investigators visited 64 carwashes in Los Angeles County and eight in Orange County. ... Thirteen investigators conducted the sweeps of 72 carwashes and found that 24 businesses were cited for not having the required registration and 19 businesses failed to have workers’ compensation insurance. In addition three businesses were found to be employing minors without the proper work permits and one business failed to provide itemized deductions to their employees.
August 22, 2008: Officials with the State Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (Labor Commissioner’s Office) issued citations totaling $521,000 in fines to car wash businesses in Northern California as part of an ongoing effort to address illegal operations in the underground economy. As part of the recent three-day enforcement sweep, investigators visited 97 carwashes. Fifteen teams of investigators conducted the two day sweeps on Aug. 13-14 and 54 carwash businesses were cited. Thirty out of the 54 carwashes received work stop notices until they can provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. The violations included failure to: Provide work permits for minors; Provide employees with an itemize wage deduction statement; Pay overtime wages; Pay the annual registration with the commissioner’s office and Provide workers’ compensation.
“Our efforts are directed at illegally operating carwash businesses as part of the underground economy,” said California Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet. “These illegal operations have a negative impact on our state’s economy, do not provide the protection workers are legally afforded, and have an unfair advantage over competitors who do follow the law.”
For some reason, car wash owners aren't producing the kind of jobs, or campaign donations, that show up on the radar in Sacramento. That, and they are easy pickings for investigators.