Investigations in Southern California by the US Department of Labor (USDL) have found $1.6 mn in back wages and liquidated damages due to 1,377 garment industry employees in 2017. These amounts resulted from violations of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) found in 94 per cent of 129 Wage and Hour Division investigations of garment factories in the region. The department also assessed an additional $36,000 in civil money penalties associated with those investigations, USDL said.

“Many of the investigations disclosed employees paid well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, with some receiving as little as $4.27 per hour. Investigators also found employers often failed to pay employees overtime at time-and-one-half of their regular rates of pay when they worked more than 40 hours in a week, as required by the FLSA,” the release said.

Department officials, however, continue to meet with retailers to encourage them to avoid non-compliant manufacturers and to buy only from suppliers that comply with federal labour laws. “In addition to our outreach efforts in this industry, we continue our investigations in Southern California to ensure local garment employees receive their rightfully earned pay,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez, in San Francisco. “Unfortunately, we continue to find wage violations at nine out of every 10 facilities we investigate. Manufacturers that fail to pay their employees minimum wage and overtime have a negative impact on the garment industry by unfairly undercutting their competition.”