The state of California has this week held The Cheesecake Factory and a cleaning services subcontractor liable in a $4.57 million case for underpaying 559 janitorial employees. The wage-theft investigation was initiated after the state labor commissioner’s office received a report from the Employee Rights Center in San Diego, an organization that assists nonunion employees. The janitors worked at eight of the chain’s Southern California restaurants in Orange and San Diego counties.
When asked for comment by Restaurant Business, Sidney Greathouse, Cheesecake Factory’s vice president of legal services, said in an email that “We take matters of this nature very seriously. We are continuing to review the allegations and will respond to the wage citation within the time provided.”
Cheesecake Factory contracts with Americlean, a janitorial services contractor, which subcontracted with Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning for the chain’s Southern California locations. All are being held liable for the wage theft.
According to investigators, janitors cleaning those locations began their shifts around midnight and worked for eight hours without adequate rest or meal breaks. Furthermore, they couldn’t leave the restaurants until Cheesecake Factory kitchen managers arrived in the morning to conduct walk-throughs. At that time, they could be tasked with additional duties and end up working up to 10 hours of unpaid overtime each week, said the labor commissioner’s report.