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California Janitor Making More Than $270,000 a Year Gets Caught Hiding in Closets Doing Nothing

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The cost of living in San Francisco is high. No argument there. Yet that’s no excuse for paying a public transit station’s janitor more than $160,000 a year in overtime. And now we know more about how the man was using his time.

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Liang Zhang earned $270K in 2015. He has a relatively easy job. He cleans a metro station in San Francisco. Sure, the work may not always be pleasant, but it is rarely complicated.

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Zhang’s base salary seems reasonable for a janitor in San Francisco: $57,945 in 2015. The Powell Street BART station needs to be cleaned. If the job was too big for one 40 hour work week, BART was willing to pay overtime.

Now Transparent California has released records that indicate Zhang made $162,050 in overtime. “It’s absolutely outrageous,” Robert Fellner of Transparent California told a local station. “For Janitors that’s obscene! It’s unconscionable!”

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When 2015 came to a close, Zhang had worked all 365 days, and had earned $271,243. He reportedly worked 18 straight 17-hour days. In July, no less.

This huge figure and the long hours began to draw attention. Zhang, unaware that his work habits were being studied, continued his routine as usual.

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As it turns out, Zhang wasn’t really working all of those hours. He had a few closets around the station that he would disappear into. Cameras caught him popping into one for a 90 minute stretch. On another day, he stayed in a closet for close to an hour.

With that, Transparent California began picking apart his record. The Daily Mail reports that Zhang made $705,000 in just four years. Yet this number, shockingly, isn’t all that unusual. Many of the BART janitors clear more than $100,000 a year.

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And BART isn’t concerned with Zhang’s earnings. BART’s Chief Transportation Officer Roy Aguilera told KTVU that Zhang works hard, and that he’s regarded as one of BART’s best janitors.

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“People are not raising their hands and saying, ‘I want some of that overtime.’ Mr. Zhang has said yes, he’s worked hard, he’s completed his assignments, so I stand by the work he’s done,” Aguilera said.