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US Govt find serious violations in LA garment district
15
Dec '12
The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement found serious violations of federal and state labor laws by each of 10 garment contractors inspected during a sweep of a single building in the Los Angeles Fashion District earlier this year. Division investigators found widespread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions, resulting in the recovery of more than $326,200 in back wages for 185 employees.

The garments being produced by violators were destined for sale at more than 30 retailers nationwide, including Aldo Group Inc., Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp., Charlotte Russe Holding Inc., Dillard's Inc., Forever 21 Inc., Frasier Clothing Co. (Susan Lawrence), HSN Inc. (Home Shopping Network), Rainbow Apparel Inc., Ross Stores Inc., TJX Cos. Inc. (TJ Maxx and Marshall's), Urban Outfitters Inc. and Wet Seal Inc.

"The extent of the violations discovered by these investigations was disappointing. Retailers need to actively ensure that clothes produced in the U.S. for sale to the American public are made by workers who are paid at least the U.S. minimum wage and proper overtime," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Federal, state, local and industry stakeholders can work together to foster a vibrant, and compliant, domestic fashion industry."

"The garment industry is a vital part of the economy of Los Angeles and California," said Julie Su, California's labor commissioner. "State law prohibits garment manufacturers from operating without a proper license, from violating state minimum wage and overtime laws, and from playing shell games to avoid paying workers properly. We are intent on making sure that sweatshop practices are eliminated so that consumers can proudly purchase garments made in L.A., honest companies can compete and garment workers can thrive."

Teams of federal and state investigators conducted unannounced investigations of employers operating out a large garment building at 830 S. Hill St. in downtown Los Angeles, where previous investigations had revealed significant labor violations and sweatshop-like employment conditions.

Investigators found many garment employees were paid a piece rate — that is, paid for each piece they sewed or cut — without regard to minimum wage or overtime pay requirements. On average, workers' wages amounted to less than $6.50 per hour — well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and the California minimum wage of $8 per hour. None of these employees received the overtime premium of time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 per week, as required under the FLSA. Significant record-keeping violations also were disclosed, including falsified time cards and under-reporting or failing to maintain accurate records of actual hours worked by garment employees.

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