After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), ESS Apparel Inc., a Los Angeles garment sewing contractor, will pay $53,876 to 21 employees for violating the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
WHD said its investigators found ESS Apparel paid employees a flat amount for each piece they sewed, without regard to the number of hours that they worked. This practice resulted in minimum wage violations when those piece rates failed to cover all the hours employees worked at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
It also resulted in overtime violations when employees worked more than 40 hours in a work week but were not paid overtime, which is required under federal labor laws.
ESS Apparel also violated FLSA’s record-keeping requirements by failing to maintain complete and accurate time records, WHD noted. The majority of the garment factory’s employees did not appear in the ESS Apparel’s records and the employer paid them in cash.
“Employers must not allow unlawful labor practices that hurt hard-working employees and prevent law-abiding employers from competing on a level playing field,” WHD district director Rodolfo Cortez said. “Violations like these must be avoided.”
Last week, a WHD investigation led to Leggings Live, operating as Legg-A-Licious, paying a combined $84,048 in back wages, liquidated damages and penalties to resolve violations of the FLSA at the company’s facility in Spanish Fork, Utah. WHD investigators found the employer violated overtime, minimum wage, recordkeeping, child labor and anti-retaliation provisions.
WHD noted that employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations can self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the agency’s Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program that facilitates resolution of potential overtime and minimum wage violations under FLSA. The program’s primary objectives are to resolve such claims quickly and without litigation, to improve employers’ compliance with overtime and minimum wage obligations, and to ensure that more employees receive the back wages they are owed in a timely manner.