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News Release

Court orders Southern California home cleaning business to pay more than $4.5 million in back wages and liquidated damages

Payments to benefit 385 low-wage domestic workers who cleaned homes and carpets

SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. district court judge has ordered Gardena, Calif.-based Southern California Maid Services and Carpet Cleaning to pay $3,467,789 in back wages, plus $1,058,973 in liquidated damages, to 385 current and former low-wage domestic workers. This action resolves a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor alleging that the workers were misclassified as independent contractors in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

"One of the highest priorities of this department is making sure that workers are paid all of the wages they have earned," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "In this case, we are recovering more than $4.5 million for nearly 400 workers."

Investigators from the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division found that Southern California Maid Services and Carpet Cleaning, owned by Sergio Maldonado and Lorenza Rubio, both of Rolling Hills, Calif., misclassified the home and carpet cleaners as independent contractors, resulting in minimum wage and overtime violations. The company also failed to keep accurate records of the employees and the hours that they worked.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage and receive overtime at one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.

The East Los Angeles District Office of the Wage and Hour Division learned of the employer's practices through participation in the Employment Education and Outreach (EMPLEO) partnership. EMPLEO is an alliance of organizations and government agencies that assist Spanish-speaking workers and employers with work-related concerns. EMPLEO has a local, toll-free helpline: (877) 55-AYUDA (552-9832). Volunteers help refer callers to the appropriate EMPLEO partner for assistance.

The Mexican Consulate of Los Angeles, a member of EMPLEO, provided assistance in locating Spanish-speaking witnesses to pursue this litigation.

For more information about the FLSA, call the Wage and Hour Division's East Los Angeles District Office at (626) 966-0478 or the Department of Labor's toll-free helpline at (866) 4US WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at

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Chao v. Southern California Maid Services and Carpet Cleaning Inc. Case Number: CV 06-3903 AG (MANx), U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employment Standards Administration
August 30, 2007