Car Wash Employees Rights in New Jersey

Car wash employees often work under terrible conditions. A recent report from a workers’ rights group in New York reported that many car wash employees are working under “illegal conditions.”

The group WASH—which stands for Workers Aligned for a Sustainable and Healthy New York–reported several shocking conditions that highlight just how hard it can be to work as a car wash employee. The group found that over 70% of car wash employees worked 60 or more hours in a week, but few of these employees received the legally mandated overtime pay. Many workers also did not get the state’s minimum wage.

Workplaces themselves were often dangerous and did not meet safety standards. However, many workers were afraid to speak up because they were migrants, sometimes working without proper legal documentation.

If you are a New Jersey car wash employee, you should make sure your rights are protected. Car wash employees in other states have received hefty compensation to make up for their exploitation. Contact Sattiraju Law today.

Minimum Wage

As of July 1, 2019, New Jersey’s minimum wage law is $10 an hour, with scheduled increases thereafter. Eventually, the minimum wage law will get up to $15 an hour for 2024. If a small business has six or fewer employees, then the minimum wage will increase more slowly.

You should check to see that you are being paid at least the state’s minimum. Add up your compensation from the car wash and then divide it by the number of hours you worked. You should be getting at least $10 an hour. If not, you could be underpaid.


The current overtime law requires that employees get 150% of their regular base rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a week. So if you make $10 but work 60 hours in a week, then your employer should pay you at least $15 for 20 of those hours. Some workers are exempt from the overtime law, but car wash employees should not be.

Rest Breaks

New Jersey employees are not entitled to lunch or rest breaks (unless they are minors). But if your employer offers them, then you have certain rights:

  • If your employer offers rest breaks of 20 minutes or less, you must be paid for them. These breaks also count toward determining whether you get overtime compensation.
  • If your employer offers a meal break of at least 30 minutes, then they are not required to compensate you. However, you must be free to do what you want during that time, otherwise it is work.

Whistleblower Protections

If your workplace is dangerous, you can report it to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, called OSHA. They should investigate and see whether the workplace is safe. If not, your employer can be fined and forced to take corrective action.
However, reporting a problem often results in retaliation. An employer might be angry and fire you for reporting unsafe work conditions. You can sue.

Learn More About NJ Car Wash Worker Law Today

Car wash employees work hard and are entitled to fair compensation. If your employer is violating your rights, please reach out to Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP today. We have successfully sued many employers on behalf of employees and are eager to discuss your options with you.