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Oct 6, 2014

Suit Alleges Santa Monica Car Wash and Detailing and Bubble Bee Car Wash Have Retaliated Against Two Employees for Participating in Class Action Suit Citing Employee Mistreatment, Including Wage and Hour Violations

LOS ANGELES, CA - MALDEF and the Wage Justice Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of two car wash workers -- "Carwasheros" as they identify themselves -- who were fired after participating in a wage class action suit against their employers. Previously, MALDEF prevailed in its efforts to ensure access to court in an ongoing class action lawsuit filed on behalf "Carwasheros" of three car washes operating in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. The current lawsuit alleges that two of those defendants, Silver Wash, Inc. (doing business as Santa Monica Car Wash and Detailing) and Gold Wash (doing business as Bubble Bee Car Wash), have retaliated against two plaintiffs for taking part in the original class action suit.

Since filing the original suit, both Silver Wash and Gold Wash have terminated the employment of two plaintiff employees, and have taken other adverse actions against them.

"There are heroes in our community who step forward to challenge, at great personal risk, the violations of unscrupulous employers," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "We must and will defend these heroes from unlawful retaliation."

Among other illegal acts, Santa Monica Car Wash and Detailing began reducing one plaintiff's work hours, isolated him from his coworkers, and created an uncomfortable work environment to encourage him to quit that included mocking him and the class action lawsuit. In the end, Santa Monica Car Wash and Detailing fired him.

In 2011, another plaintiff was injured while working at Bubble Bee Car Wash. His doctor authorized him to work again beginning on October 1, 2012. After reaching out to his supervisor at Bubble Bee Car Wash to report for work, he was told to come into work. Despite having been told to report to work, Leyva received a call on, telling him that his employment had been terminated.

"The Plaintiffs bravely came forward to challenge the Carwashes' wage theft," said MALDEF National Senior Counsel, Victor Viramontes. "Instead of retaliating against their own workers and creating more problems for themselves, the Carwashes need to start paying fair wages."

Matthew Sirolly, Legal Director of the Wage Justice Center, co-counsel in this lawsuit, added, "We are proud to be able to stand beside these brave carwasheros who are fighting for real and lasting change in the carwash industry."

In 2012, MALDEF filed a lawsuit against all three car washes, seeking compensation for often being forced to work, "off the clock," without overtime pay, and without rest or meal breaks, among other violations. The Wage Justice Center joined MALDEF as co-counsel in that case. Employee mistreatment at the car washes went beyond wage and hour violations. The car wash owners also required employees to purchase their own materials for work, and intentionally provided employees with inaccurate work records in an effort to conceal unlawful labor practices.

To view the complaint, click here.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

For all media inquiries, please contact Larry Gonzalez.