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Car Wash Workers Sue Boss Who Underpaid for Years

ELIZABETH, NJ- A group of immigrant car wash workers are filing a lawsuit against their employer alleging they were underpaid for years.

The eight workers say Caribbean Car Wash in Elizabeth paid less than $5 per hour and denied overtime despite the employees working 11-hour days six or seven days a week, according to a statement from their attorney, Steven Arenson of New York.

“Unfortunately, many workers don’t know their rights and are afraid of being fired if they speak up,” Arenson said in a statement Monday. “The law protects workers who have been paid illegally, regardless of their immigration status, and New Jersey’s new law is designed to protect precisely the kind of low-wage, vulnerable workforce exploited in this case.”

The suit seeks unpaid wages and unpaid overtime compensation.

Last year, 106 car wash workers (some of whom worked in Elizabeth) split an $8.5 million settlement after they sued to recover lost wages. Many of those workers had been paid $4 an hour for years, said Arenson, who also worked on that case.

New Jersey’s current minimum hourly wage is $10, and will rise to $15 by 2024. Last week, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver signed into law a bill enhancing punishments on employers who don’t pay. Among other measures, the bill allows workers to seek unpaid wages going back six years, as opposed to two under the old law.

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