California Garment Workers Owed More Than $3 Million in Unpaid Wages
Another $28,000 in back pay for minimum wage and overtime wages were recovered for 13 employees at Lucky Stars, a South El Monte, Calif. garment contractor that sold to retailers, such as JC Penney, Kohl's and Macy's.
These violations in the garment industry have been historically high with more than $2 million typically affecting about 2,000 workers since fiscal year 2010, according to the department. Since 2009, 89 percent of 1,600 Southern California cases have lead to more than $15 million in back wages owed to about 12,000 workers—many of whom are immigrants with limited English, making them particularly vulnerable to labor violations as they often are unaware of their rights or are reluctant to speak up.
As a result, the Wage and Hour Division has increased surveillance and employed more multilingual investigators. Repeat offenders may face civil monetary penalties. The agency has helped secure the supply chain via wage compliance contracts with manufacturers that encourage them to monitor their contractors.
"We are committed to strong enforcement and providing educational workshops for employers, yet we continue to find significant problems in this industry," said Ruben Rosalez, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division's western region. "We are using a variety of strategies to better protect workers and level the playing field for law-abiding businesses."