DOL Conducts Enforcement Initiative to Combat Wage and Hour Violations in the Los Angeles Fashion District, SoCal Garment Industry
November 26, 2012
Vincent Howard has been following the recent announcement that the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is conducting an enforcement initiative over the next few years that will focus on the Southern California garment industry--where the department has historically found massive violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) minimum wage, overtime payment and record keeping provisions. This initiative will concentrate on the Los Angeles County and Orange County areas, and will also focus on employers who operate out of large garment buildings in the downtown Los Angeles Fashion District.
According to the DOL, the WHD's Los Angeles, West Covina and San Diego offices have conducted over 1,500 different investigations of employers throughout the Southern California garment industry. The results showed that ninety-three percent of these investigations uncovered wage and hour violations, and the WHD found that over $11 million in back wages were due to around 11,000 workers. Among the violations found were paying employees far below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, paying for piece rate work, which means only paying for each piece that the workers cut or sew, and forcing employees to work six or seven days a week, putting in 10-12 hour days with no overtime compensation.
The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) will join the WHD staff to conduct these investigations, which include pay roll record reviewing, employee interviews, and surveillance of employment practices. When wage and hour violations are found, the division claims that they will use all tools available for enforcement-- including litigation, liquidated damages, civil money penalties and a "hot goods" injunction, in order to recover the workers' wages, and ensure that employers comply to state and federal wage and hour laws. The FLSA's hot goods provision prohibits the shipping of good to other states that have been produced by employers who engaged in violations of the FLSA's minimum wage, child labor and overtime provisions.
As Vincent Howard frequently discusses, under the FLSA, covered employees are legally required to receive at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as one and one half their regular rates for any hours worked over forty in a work week. The act also requires that accurate records of the workers' work hours, wages, and other conditions of employment be properly maintained.
In addition to the enforcement measures, the WHD is also conducting an outreach program to inform workers of their federal labor rights and is seeking to contact community organizations, local and state agencies, faith-based groups and other groups to inspire participation in promoting labor law compliance. The WHD is also providing FLSA compliance education and assistance to industry associations and employers. According to the WHD, the department has been fighting these sweatshop-type working conditions for twenty years, and continues to work to achieve compliance in the garment industry, where many of this country's most vulnerable workers are employed. According to the WHD, this enforcement initiative is aimed to open the eyes of the entire fashion industry--to show manufacturers, retailers and contractors that they need to work with state and federal organizations to put a stop to these wage and hour violations.
In cities throughout Orange County, California, contact Vincent Howard at Howard Law, PC today.
US Labor Department conducts enforcement initiative to end sweatshop conditions in Los Angeles' Fashion District, Southern California garment industry, U.S. Department of Labor Press Release, August 8, 2012
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