LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Federal labor investigators cited 10 garment companies in the downtown Fashion District for underpaying workers and failing to keep adequate records, it was announced today.
Investigators found the garment contractors owed back wages of $326,200 to 185 employees.
The garment contractors supply clothes to 30 major retailers nationwide, including Burlington Coat Factory, Dillard’s, Forever 21, Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Urban Outfitters.
The citations were issued as part of a broad effort announced in August by the U.S. Department of Labor to crack down on on sweatshops in the downtown Los Angeles Fashion District.
The companies, which had been previously cited for labor practice violations and sweatshop-like conditions, were cited this time for paying many workers per item they sewed or cut. The pay amounted to an average hourly wage of less than $6.50 per hour, below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and the state minimum wage of $8 per hour.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis called the violations 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,” she said.
A “hot goods” provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act bars the shipment of products produces in violation of the act’s wage or child labor protections. Several manufacturers paid the back wages and were able to ship their goods.
Three contractors were also cited for not being registered as garment contractors for failing to provide itemized deductions, pay the state minimum wage or comply with state overtime pay requirements.
“The garment industry is a vital part of the economy of Los Angeles and California,” California Labor Commissioner Julie Su said. “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.”