Last week on our Los Angeles / Long Beach employment law blog, we had mentioned that restaurant workers in California had finally recovered compensation that was owed to them for hours worked. Their employers violated many wage and hour laws, including failing to pay workers for all of their hours worked and failing to pay workers overtime wages. Unfortunately, these illegal practices are all too common in the restaurant industry.
According to another recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor and the California Labor Standards Enforcement division, similar wage and hour law violations have also been occurring in the garment manufacturing industry. In August, federal and state labor authorities investigated several garment businesses located in Los Angeles. After conducting the investigation, authorities discovered that 10 of the investigated businesses had committed violations against workers.
The garment businesses that were accused of violating labor laws supply many local and national retailers with clothing products. Dillard's, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe are just a few of the 30 retailers that have purchased products from the offending garment manufacturers.
State and federal authorities reported earlier this month that compensation has been recovered for workers who were affected by the violations. In many cases, workers were paid less than minimum wage because their pay was based on the number of garments they sewed or cut each day instead of an hourly wage. Other workers had put in overtime hours without being paid overtime wages. The businesses have been cited for these violations, authorities said.
Overall, about 185 workers were affected by these violations. State and federal authorities also said that they were able to recover more than $326,000 in back wages for the garment workers. This is certainly a victory for workers in the garment industry, but this was also the result of only one investigation. Hundreds of other workers in California and throughout the entire country are still being paid less than what they should legally be earning. Authorities said that their efforts to end these violations are ongoing.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Feds say L.A. 'sweatshop' sweep finds widespread violations," Rank Shyong, Dec. 13, 2012