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Labor Department says garment workers faced wage violations

In California, some workers are prime targets for workplace violations. This could be due to being immigrants, working in jobs that involve manual labor, not having specific wage parameters and for myriad reasons. It is important for every worker to understand their rights.

Recently, the Labor Department issued a report stating that California garment workers were victimized by various illegal behaviors by their employers. Given how critical they are to one of California’s major industries, this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Workers in any industry who believe they were not paid what they should have been are wise to seek professional help.

Large percentage of garment workers faced various wage violations

As part of its 2022 Southern California Garment Worker Survey, the Labor Department found a series of wage violations. Eight in 10 manufacturers and contractors in the state were found to have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. Over half of the garment workers were paid under the table.

This is especially problematic in California because it is the largest apparel producer in the nation. Los Angeles is a hub for this industry. Eighty-three percent of apparel is sewn in Los Angeles.

One-third of the cases assessed by the Labor Department involved workers who were paid “piece rate.” This method based their pay on how productive they were. The law allowing this ended at the start of 2022.

The workers are frequently immigrants with many coming from Central America and Mexico. Their work was highlighted during the health crisis when they were relied upon for making masks and other protective equipment. Despite that, many were allegedly paid as little as $1.58 per hour.

Workers who are not paid what they should be may need immediate help

While this case focuses on immigrants who have a language barrier, are often unaware of their rights and do not want to protest for fear of negative consequences, workplace violations can happen to anyone. Not getting the wages to which a person is legally entitled should not be accepted.

Whether a worker is paid off the books, does not receive overtime, is deprived of lunch time, is paid piece rate or is mistreated in any other way, it is essential to speak out as soon as possible.

Many negotiate with their employer or accept a settlement before discussing the situation with experienced legal professionals. This is a mistake as they might still be shortchanged. Before anything else, it is useful to talk to those who understand wage and hour laws and can help with holding employers accountable.