A San Francisco transit janitor with an arguably excessive salary was caught hiding in a closet for several hours at work. What exactly he does there remains questioned.
Liang Zhao Zhang, tasked to clean the Powell Street station, made at least $270,000 in 2015. On top of his basic pay worth $57,945, the amount included $162,050 in overtime, $14,594 in “other pay” and $36,652 in total benefits.
Overall, Zhang earned $271,243 in 2015 and possibly more in 2016, Transparent California showed. But he’s now under flak following an investigation conducted by local television station KTVU, which noticed that he often visited a storage closet in the station.
Through surveillance footage, KTVU found that Zhang spent as much as 90 minutes in the closet several times in the day. Employer Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) paid him for a 17-hour workday for a period of 18 consecutive days in July 2015.
Zhang defended himself by claiming that he was merely taking his lunch break, but BART said employees are only given 30 minutes for meals. His timecard data showed that he worked every day in 2015.
Roy Aguilera, BART’s chief transportation officer, stood by Zhang’s work. He said the latter never refused additional workload. Then there’s also the fact that the janitorial staff spend more time cleaning urine, feces and needles due to the large population of homeless people in the station.
The officer described Zhang:
“People are not raising their hands and saying, ‘I want some of that overtime. He has said yes. He’s worked hard, he’s completed the assignments, so I stand by the work he’s done.”
Meanwhile, Transparent California’s Robert Fellner could not believe Zhang’s pay cheque:
“It’s absolutely outrageous. For janitors that’s obscene! It’s unconscionable.”
Is any janitor worth $270,000 a year?