US Department of Labor recovers $115K in back wages, damages for 36 workers after investigation finds New Jersey car wash operator denied overtime
FRANKLIN PARK, NJ – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has recovered $115,801 in back wages and damages for 36 workers after an investigation found their employer denied them overtime pay at two New Jersey car washes.
Investigators determined Oriel Cohen – owner of New Casino Car Wash in Franklin Park and Riverdale Car Wash in Riverdale – failed to pay employees overtime at time-and-one-half their required rates of pay for hours over 40 in a workweek. Instead, Cohen paid straight-time wage rates, in cash, for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The employer also failed to maintain accurate records. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits these actions.
“Car wash industry workers are among the lowest paid in our nation,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Charlene Rachor in Lawrence Township, New Jersey. “By denying workers all of the wages earned, employers like Oriel Cohen make it difficult for workers to make ends meet.”
In fiscal year 2021, the division recovered more than $4.3 million in back wages for more than 3,500 auto care workers after nearly 550 automotive services industry investigations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there were 1.8 million job openings among all non-farm workers in the Northeast in April 2022, which is forcing employers to compete with one another to attract employees to fill their open positions.
“As employers struggle to find the people they need to operate their businesses, those who fail to respect workers’ rights to full wages and benefits will find it more difficult to retain and recruit workers,” Rachor explained. “Employers who treat their workers fairly and abide by the laws governing wages and benefits will clearly have a competitive advantage over those who do not.”
Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions or concerns – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android Timesheet App for free.