CALIFORNIA – The Cheesecake Factory chain and two cleaning contractors have collectively disbursed $1 million as part of a historic agreement related to wage violations that impacted hundreds of workers.
California Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower is set to announce this milestone in San Diego, highlighting the importance of ensuring that companies and their contractors operate legally and adequately compensate their employees.
Rafael Ventura, field director of the nonprofit Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, underscores that this agreement sends a strong message to companies. The need to ensure that contractors operate legally and fairly compensate their workers is crucial. Otherwise, they will face responsibility for labor violations.
The agency cited the well-known Cheesecake Factory restaurant chain, along with Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning and Americlean Janitorial Services, for over $4.5 million in 2018. During the period from 2014 to 2017, state investigators discovered minimum wage violations, overtime issues, and other labor infringements affecting over 550 cleaning workers.
Under this agreement, Cheesecake Factory contributed $750,000, Americlean agreed to pay $200,000, and Magic Touch accepted a $50,000 settlement. This agreement not only ensures fair compensation but also establishes additional responsibilities for Cheesecake Factory.
Naxhili Pérez, an affected worker, recounted how she was paid $70 per day, although she often worked more than 10 hours. Despite this agreement, Pérez expressed her desire for more substantial financial recovery for the affected workers. However, she acknowledged that the lengthy legal battle resulted in a reduction in the owed amount.
Cheesecake Factory did not respond to comment requests, but both Magic Touch and Americlean issued handwritten apologies. Americlean, based in Minneapolis, acknowledged that it “could have better supervised Magic Touch” and committed to complying with California law in the future.
This agreement also imposes additional obligations on Cheesecake Factory, including training restaurant managers and corporate executives in California to oversee cleaning contracts. Additionally, it requires that future cleaning contractors be subject to audits by the company on wage matters.
Stanford Law School Professor Bill Gould described the agreement as “modest.” His concern lies in the lack of an independent monitor to ensure the company’s promises are upheld, given the limited enforcement capacity of the Labor Commissioner’s Office.
The defendants agreed to send checks to the Labor Commissioner’s Office within five days of executing the agreement. The agency plans to distribute the funds to the affected workers. However, locating many of the affected individuals will be a challenge, as seven to ten years have passed since the wage violations.
This historic agreement underscores the importance of corporate accountability and the need to ensure fair working conditions in the cleaning industry in California.