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Cheesecake Factory found liable in janitorial wage theft case

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Posted at 12:17 PM, Jun 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-11 15:17:49-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Cheesecake Factory Restaurants in San Diego, Escondido, and Orange County are being held liable for $4.5 million in wage thefts by the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, it was reported Monday.

The restaurant group hired a janitorial contractor, which hired the subcontractor who underpaid 559 janitorial workers, officials said.

State investigators found that workers from Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning started their shifts around midnight and worked until morning without proper meal or rest break periods. The Magic Touch workers were not allowed to leave until Cheesecake Factory kitchen managers reviewed their work, at which point they were often assigned additional tasks, investigators reported. Each worker logged up to 10 hours of unpaid overtime each week.

The Cheesecake Factory locations investigated included:

  • Friars Road, San Diego
  • Harbor Drive, San Diego
  • Via Rancho Parkway, Escondido
  • Brea Mall Way, Brea
  • Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine
  • Erdinger Avenue, Huntington Beach
  • The Shops at Mission Viejo, Mission Viejo
  • Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach

Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning owner Zulma Villegas must pay $3,936,359 to the workers. The citations also include more than $600,000 in civil penalties.

“This case illustrates common wage theft practices in the janitorial industry, where businesses have contracted and subcontracted to avoid responsibility for ensuring workers are paid what they are owed,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “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 businesses that are underbid by wage thieves.”

Since the investigation started in December 2016, Villegas changed her business name and began operating as Z’s Commercial Quality Cleaning. Both businesses are subject to citations, officials report.