Laundry Workers Living Wage Lawsuit Settled
Hundreds of laundry workers in Southern California who brought a lawsuit against Cintas Corp., one of the largest industrial laundries in the US and Canada, have been awarded $6.5 million. The workers allege Cintas violated the Los Angeles “living wage” law. This law set salary and benefit standards for all contractors and firms doing business with the government.
Although Cintas denies any wrongdoing, the agreed upon settlement awards 500 laundry employees who worked in various Cintas facilities in California $3.3 million in back wages and interest; the remainder will go toward penalties and court costs. Cintas agreed to settle the five year old case to avoid additional expense and distraction associated with ongoing litigation.
The laundry workers had help with their case form labor leaders who believe this to be the largest monetary amount ever paid for living wage violations. Workers United/Services Employees International Union is continuing its effort to unionize industrial laundries. Cintas is a mostly non-union employer whose workers are typically immigrants earning $9 to $12 an hour. Cintas must pay those who do business in L.A. $11.55 an hour: $10.30 an hour for wages, plus $1.25 an hour for benefits. Minimum wage in California is $8 an hour.
Cintas has countered that the lawsuit headed by union organizers was an attempt to hurt the company’s image. However, union leaders point out that the company employs 30,000 across the US and Canada and reported $3.8 billion in revenue this year. Cintas was ordered to pay $1.4 million last year to resolve a living wage complaint by laundry workers in Northern California last year.