The California Labor Commissioner’s Office has revoked the license of a Los Angeles garment manufacturer for providing false information on its license application and repeatedly failing to follow labor laws.
VRP Fashion Inc. owner Veronica Rojas Pablo stated in her garment manufacturer’s license application that the business had no employees, according to the state Labor Commissioner’s Office. But an onsite inspection at the facility on West 6th Street in Los Angeles on May 19, 2021, revealed workers sewing garments.
The Labor Commissioner’s Office cited Pablo after she did not provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance coverage and ordered her to stop work until such coverage was purchased. Pablo did not respond to the order nor did she appeal the citations, the Labor Commissioner’s Office said. She also barred an inspector from a follow-up visit and had workers leave the premises from a back exit.
Multiple attempts were made to contact the employer, but by September the business was vacated and the citations were left unpaid, the commissioner’s office said.
“Garment manufacturing employers are legally obligated to follow the law as a condition of being granted a manufacturing license,” Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower said. “This employer was found to have willfully violated the law and obstructed our investigation.”
A new law that went into effect on Jan. 1 changes the way many garment manufacturers operate. The Garment Worker Protection Act eliminates piece-rate compensation that pays garment workers by the number of units produced. The act also requires workers be paid at least the minimum wage at an hourly rate, in addition to new record-keeping stipulations and expanding the manufacturer’s responsibility.
“The Garment Worker Protection Act creates a higher standard for California workers in this industry,” García-Brower said. “It eliminates piece rate compensation, which is a predatory structure that historically facilitates wage theft. Eliminating piece rate pay should help alleviate pressures workers experience to forgo rest breaks and other health and safety protections.”
The Garment Manufacturing Act of 1980 requires that all industry employers register with the Labor Commissioner and demonstrate adequate character, competency and responsibility, including by maintaining workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Garment manufacturers who contract with unregistered entities are automatically deemed joint employers of the workers in the contract facility. Clothing confiscated from illegal operations cannot be sold and will be donated to non-profit organizations.
The Labor Commissioner also administers a special wage claim adjudication process for garment workers pursuant to California’s AB 633, passed in 1999. This law provides not only an expedited process for garment workers to file wage claims but also provides a wage guarantee where garment manufacturers are responsible for wage theft at their contractors’ facilities.
The Labor Commissioner’s Office in 2020 launched an interdisciplinary outreach campaign, “Reaching Every Californian.” The campaign amplifies basic protections and builds pathways to affected populations so workers and employers understand legal protections and obligations, and the Labor Commissioner’s enforcement procedures.