Unpaid wage and overtime problems involving employees at one of the Sikder Group's many businesses first surfaced in 2007, when a car wash in Santa Monica paid 55 employees $100,000 in back wages after being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. Workers there were found to have routinely worked 10 hours a day, forgoing overtime pay and sometimes receiving less than the federal minimum wage.
The Sikder Group is an international business conglomerate, with holdings in restaurants, resorts, a bank, luxury condos and a number of car washes.
In the wake of the 2007 settlement, it is once again the latter business interest that has caught the interest of regulators. In the first week of October, California Attorney General Jerry Brown filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Sikder for its treatment of employees at eight car washes throughout the state. The suit alleges that Sikder routinely issued checks that bounced, harassed its workers and subjected them to dangerous working conditions. It seeks $6.6 million in penalties and unpaid wages.
The work force at Sikder's car wash business is comprised largely of immigrant Latino employees, who have alleged that the company's checks bounced so frequently that check cashers eventually threatened the workers themselves with legal action for seeking to cash them.
In lauding the government's lawsuit on behalf of the workers, Henry Huerta, director of a worker advocacy group, asked, "How is it acceptable for the Sikder family, who has control over assets valued at over $2 billion dollars, to issue payroll checks to carwash workers that bounce?"
Related Resource: www.launionaflcio.org "AG Jerry Brown Files $6.6M Lawsuit to Recover Unpaid Wages for Carwash Workers" October 5, 2010