Aug 26, 2013 8:33 PM by Nathan O'Neal
TUCSON - Three Octopus Car Wash locations were cited for violations of minimum wage requirements and child labor laws, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The department ordered more than $313,000 in back wages to be paid out to nearly 300 current and former employees of the car washes, which are owned and operated by the same franchisee.
Eric Murray, District Director of the U.S. Department of Labor told News 4 Tucson that the employer did not record all of the hours that were actually worked.
"They created an engaged-to-wait situation where the employees were there but they weren't showing up on the timecards," Murray said, adding that employees would "clock out" when business got slow and "clock in" when it picked up again.
The car wash owners and management team sent News 4 Tucson a statement that explains that "as a result of the findings, Octopus was required to review all timecards and to compensate employees who were affected over the last three years."
However, at their Thornydale location, there was more trouble.
"In addition to this case, we found child labor violations," Murray said.
Investigators found 14 and 15 year olds working at the car wash for longer hours than the law allows.
"It's important that in these particular violations they were working over 8 hours a day and during the school year - we want kids to get educated," Murray said.
As for the car wash's ownership and management team, they said in their prepared statement that they are staying proactive.
"Octopus has also consulted a lawyer specializing in Arizona labor laws to ensure that all of their timekeeping policies are in compliance with federal and local laws," the statement reads.
While the employer has paid back owed wages in full, the Department of Labor is still looking to get in touch with more than 200 former employees.