For the second time in seven months, a city contractor has been accused of breaking a city law that guarantees a living wage for all employees paid by the city.

The living wage law was passed in 2005 after labor and progressive groups sought higher wages for blue-collar workers at companies who contracted with the city. The new law required the companies to pay their employees $12 an hour or $10 an hour plus healthcare coverage, with cost-of-living adjustments every year.

Here’s a story we published last summer on another contractor that allegedly flouted the law.

The latest contractor is janitorial services company Jani-King, which is the subject of a living wage complaint that has been filed by Kenneth Wells, who worked as a janitor at two San Diego branch libraries.

Wells alleges he wasn’t paid at the right rate, wasn’t paid for vacations, wasn’t paid on time and wasn’t paid when he was discharged. His complaint also alleges that the contractor failed to keep adequate records relating to his employment and his payment.

Lilia Garcia, an employment law investigator representing Wells, said the records-keeping element of Wells’ complaint is particularly important. For some of his employment, Wells didn’t receive itemized paychecks from Jani-King, Garcia said. When companies don’t keep accurate records of how they are paying their employees, they often also don’t keep good tax records, she said.

“It’s of great concern to me that public funds are going to support contractors like these that don’t abide by city law,” Garcia said.

Garcia said Wells has also filed a complaint with the California Labor Commission. She said in addition to breaking the new city law, Jani-King has also violated state employment laws in the way Wells was treated.

I contacted a spokesman for Jani-King, Robert Kindred, at the company’s headquarters in Dallas. He told me he’s looking into the issue and will get back to me as soon as he gets in contact with the local franchise of Jani-King. He did e-mail me a brief statement, part of which reads as follows:

Jani-King has policies in place that absolutely require our franchise owners to adhere to all local, state and federal laws.


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