US-based full-service chain Cheesecake Factory Restaurants has been found liable in a $4.57m wage theft violations case involving 559 janitorial workers.

California Labour Commissioner’s Office said the janitors worked at the restaurant chain’s eight locations in Orange and San Diego counties.

The workers were managed by Magic Touch Commercial Cleaning, which was subcontracted by the Cheesecake Factory’s janitorial contractor Americlean Janitorial Services Corp.

As per the citations, Magic Touch owner Zulma Villegas must pay $3.936m to the workers for unpaid minimum wages and overtime, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties and meal and rest period violations.

It also includes a fine of $632,750 to be paid for properly itemised pay stubs and other civil penalties. Americlean Janitorial Services is also liable in the case.

According to the investigators, the workers were asked to start their shifts around midnight and worked through morning without proper meal or rest break periods.

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The restaurant chain’s kitchen managers asked the workers to wait until they review their work even after completing their shift. Each worker was identified to work up to 10 hours of unpaid overtime each week.

Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su said: “This case illustrates common wage theft practices in the janitorial industry, where businesses have contracted and subcontracted to avoid responsibility for ensuring workers are paid what they are owed.

“Client businesses can no longer shield themselves from liability for wage theft through multiple layers of contracts.

“Our enforcement benefits not only the workers who deserve to be paid, but also legitimate janitorial businesses that are underbid by wage thieves.”