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State and Federal Investigation Uncovers Massive Wage and Hour Violations in Downtown Los Angeles Garment Industry

February 1, 2013

In a previous Santa Ana, California employment lawyers blog, Vincent Howard discussed the launch of the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) enforcement initiative focusing on the garment industry in Southern California--an industry with a record of consistent and wide spread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

According to a related WHD news report, during a recent sweep of a single building in the Los Angeles Fashion District, the WHD and the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) found extensive violations of federal and state wage and hour laws by all of the ten garment contractors inspected in the building. The investigators found massive violations of the overtime payment, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions of the FLSA, with over $326,200 recovered in back wages for 185 low-wage employees.

As Vincent Howard frequently reports in Howard Law's labor and employment lawyers blog, wage theft is a serious problem in low-wage California industries like the garment industry, with vulnerable workers who are routinely paid less than minimum wage, denied overtime compensation, and other employee benefits.

According to former Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, the results found by the investigations are disappointing, as it is the responsibility of retailers to actively ensure that the garments produced in this country for sale to the American public are made by workers who are compensated fairly with at least the federal minimum wage, and overtime payment.

California's labor commissioner, Julie Su, stated that the garment industry is a huge part of the Los Angeles and California economy, and under state law, garment manufacturers are prohibited from operating without a license, from violating state minimum wage and overtime laws, and from avoiding the proper payment of garment workers. Su claimed that the commissioner's office is working to ensure that sweatshop practices in California are eliminated, so that honest Los Angeles companies can compete in the workplace, garment workers can have fair employment and thrive, and so that consumers can be proud purchasing garments made in Los Angeles.

The investigation reportedly focused on one large garment building in downtown Los Angeles, and conducted an unannounced investigation of employers operating out of the building, who produce retail apparel for brands like Dillard's, Inc., Aldo Group, Inc., HSN, Inc., Urban Outfitters, Inc., and Wet Seal, Inc., among others. Investigators found that many workers were paid on a piece rate, with no regard to the state and federal minimum wage or overtime compensation requirements. The workers' wage compensation on average totaled less that $6.50 per hour, well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, and the California state minimum wage of $8 per hour.

The investigators found that not a single employee received overtime compensation of one and one half their regular pay rates for all hours worked beyond forty in a workweek--as required by the FLSA. There were also major record-keeping violations found, including time cards that were falsified, along with an under reporting of hours. The employers were also found to have failed to maintain accurate records of the garment workers' actual hours.

At Howard Law, PC, our employment and labor lawyers believe that all California workers are entitled to their right to fair working conditions that are free from unlawful wage and hour violations. If you or someone you know has been subjected to wage theft and wage and hour violations in the workplace in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, contact Vincent Howard and our dedicated staff of labor and employment professionals today.

Extensive violations of federal, state laws found among garment contractors at Los Angeles Fashion District location, U.S. Department of Labor Press Release, December 13, 2013

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

California Department of Industrial Relations, (DIR)

Related Blog Posts:

DOL Conducts Enforcement Initiative to Combat Wage and Hour Violations in the Los Angeles Fashion District, SoCal Garment Industry, California Employment Lawyers Blog, November 26, 2012

Tyson Workers to Receive $32M in Wage and Hour Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 26, 2012

CA Labor Commissioner Sues Farm Labor Contractor for Wage and Hour Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, August 21, 2012

Courtney Love Sued for Wage and Hour Violations, Wrongful Termination, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 19, 2012

CA Labor Commissioner and DIR Continue to Combat Wage Theft in the Workplace, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 30, 2012

Rite Aid to Pay Over $20M in Class Action Wage and Hour Lawsuit Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 19, 2012

DOL Launches Los Angeles-area Restaurant Enforcement Initiative to Combat FLSA Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 3, 2012

Hotel Workers File Lawsuit Against Hotel Staffing Company for Wage and Hour Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 30, 2012

Hospitality Industry Continues to Violate Workers' Wage and Hour Rights, California Employment Lawyers Blog, April 18, 2011

Default Judgment of $800K Obtained in DOL Garment Manufacturing Case, California Employment Lawyers Blog, December 17, 2010

Los Angeles Workers and Activists Rally at City Hall to Protest Wage Theft, California Employment Lawyers Blog, November 19, 2010

Joe's Jeans Pays $159K in Back Wages to LA Garment Workers, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 20, 2011

DOL Wage and Hour Division Audits for Low Wage Industry Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 20, 2010

New Study Reveals More Abuse of Low-wage Workers in Los Angeles, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 11, 2010