Eight Businesses That Have Violated San Diego's Minimum Wage Law
Employees received back wages from eight businesses that operate in San Diego after city audits found the employees were not getting what they were owed. The city had conducted the investigations after employees filed complaints. Two of those businesses also paid the city a total of $28,000 in fines, according to City Spokeswoman Racquel Vasquez.
San Diego's minimum wage law guarantees workers $11.50 an hour and five paid sick days a year. As of December 2017, Vasquez said that 99 employees had received $32,844.98 in back pay from eight businesses that were not following the law.
Vazquez wouldn't name those businesses. So KPBS filed a Public Records Act request to get the list. The amount each business paid to employees in back pay and fines was redacted. The dashes in the right column under "Penalties Paid To City" indicate some of the businesses were not fined.
KPBS reached out to each of the eight businesses:
• 7-Eleven Franchise #26909: 4210 Beyer Blvd., San Ysidro
The owner of the business, who would not give his name, said he bought the franchise in November 2017, and said the problem was likely with previous ownership.
When asked for more details, he said he was not authorized to talk to reporters and directed KPBS to corporate communications. Messages to 7-Eleven's corporate communications seeking comment were not returned.
This 7-Eleven franchise also paid fines to the city for violating the minimum wage law, as seen in the redacted document.
• CDS Staffing, LLC: A national company that provides staffing for "hotels, manufacturers, distributors, warehouses, and many other industrial facilities," according to its website. Messages to the company seeking comment were not returned.
• El Pollo Loco Franchise #3316: 2795 Main St., Barrio Logan
The owner said she could not speak to reporters and directed KPBS to corporate communications. Messages to El Pollo Loco's corporate communications seeking comment were not returned.
UPDATE: After this story was published, the co-owner of El Pollo Loco contacted KPBS. He said he had not been aware that he owed sick time to one employee, and when he was contacted by the city he paid the employee what she was owed. He provided KPBS with his payroll information that showed he paid his employees minimum wage.
• Pancho Villa Farmers Market: 3245 El Cajon Blvd., Normal Heights
The manager of the grocery store said he would not discuss the issue over the phone and requested to speak with KPBS in person. When KPBS visited the location, a handwritten sign in front of store said it was "closed for security reasons."
The store was shut down by the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health on Jan. 31 for multiple major violations, including vermin, sewage disposal and proper cooling.
• San Diego Community News Network: The publisher of six local newspapers, including San Diego Uptown News and Gay San Diego.
David Mannis, the publisher, provided a lengthy explanation to KPBS. He said that he was not aware of a small detail in the city ordinance that dictates how salespeople who work on commission are paid for sick time.
Mannis said the San Diego Community News Network salespeople earn a base weekly rate and a commission of 10 percent of the week's ad sales. But if a salesperson takes a sick day, he is also owed a fifth of his percentage of the week's commission.
"So someone can actually earn more money when they are out sick," Mannis said.
Tricia Mendenhall, the city's minimum wage program manager, confirmed this is how the law works.
Mannis said he is "totally for the minimum wage, I believe people should make minimum wage," but said he worries the members of the City Council "didn't read all the fine print" when passing the law.
• Sand 'N Sea Liquor: 3006 Garrison St., Point Loma
The man who identified himself as the owner told KPBS "there was a miscommunication, there was no violation."
"You better get your information right before you start accusing people," he said.
Another city spokeswoman, Katie Keach, confirmed the business did pay back wages but not a penalty.
When asked for his name, the owner said, "Bob Smith." The city's business license records state Sand 'N' Sea is owned by John Cardosa.
• Scholastic, Inc: A national publisher of educational materials. Messages to corporate communications seeking comment were not returned.
• The Incredible Cafe: 11828 Rancho Bernardo Rd., Rancho Bernardo
No one from the business could be reached for comment.
The Incredible Cafe also paid fines to the city for violating the minimum wage law.