INWOOD — A local car wash business shuttered unexpectedly over the weekend, nearly a year after staffers successfully sued and won a record-breaking $1.65 million in back wages and damages.
The Soft Touch Car Wash at 4778 Broadway, which is owned by Jose and Andres Vasquez, closed Saturday and the owners were seen retrieving items from the property on Monday afternoon, according to sources.
Jose Vasquez filed for bankruptcy last year after 18 of his car wash employees at that site and others around the city sued him for wage theft and emotional distress and won a $1.65 million settlement — the "largest ever wage theft settlement in their line of work," according to the workers' lawyer, Steven Arenson, of the employment litigation firm Arenson Dittmar & Karban.
Each worker was slated to receive at least $91,000, while the employees who worked the longest were to collect close to $200,000. The sites that were included in the lawsuit were J.V. Car Wash in in Manhattan, Webster Hand Car Wash Corp. in The Bronx; Harlem Hand Car Wash Corp. in Manhattan and the Bayway Hand Car Wash Corp. in New Jersey.
Workers said they were forced to work long hours for as little as $20 a day, and were not allowed to take lunch breaks if there were customers to serve, according to reports.