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Over one million dollars recovered for Californian garment workers

By Rachel Douglass


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Credits: Beyond Yoga.

The US Department of Labor has said that it has recovered over one million dollars in back wages and damages for 165 garment workers after an investigation found a series of malpractices by Los Angeles garment contractors.

The settlement, considered to be the largest for Californian garment workers to date, was linked to the operations of four of the city’s sewing contractors, which had come under investigation from the department’s Wage and Hour Division.

Investigators found four Los Angeles sewing contractors to be in violation – Good Cash LLC and its associated entities, Good Cash Inc., Premium Quality Apparel LLC, and Premium Quality Apparel Inc. Good Cash and Premium Quality Apparel are owned by Ramon Tecum; Marisela Romero, also known as Diana Tecum; and Joseph Delao. The organisation also concluded that former California deputy labor commissioner Conrado Gomez played a “significant role in the businesses”.

As part of the investigation, the department discovered that contractors had “willfully failed to pay overtime wages for hours over 40 in a workweek to employees who worked an average of 52 hours per week”. They were further found to have “falsified payroll records and issued fake checks to mask their illegal pay practices”.

Beyond Yoga to pay back wages and damages

According to the department’s report, when an attempt to execute a court-authorised investigation inspection warrant was carried out, Tecum, Romero and Gomez had tried to interfere by “pretending to be workers, shutting off the power to the facility, and ordering employees to leave the worksite”.

During the process, the Department of Labour said it had enforced a “hot goods” hold on apparel produced by the contractors’ employees from I Am Beyond, which did business under Beyond Yoga. The brand ultimately agreed to pay 582,317 dollars in back wages and an equal amount in damages once informed of the violations, while further entering into an enhanced compliance agreement that required an update to its code of conduct for garment contractors to ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In addition to this, the Office of the Solicitor also obtained a consent judgement against the Good Cash and Premium Apparel entities to pay 200,000 dollars in civil money penalties for its own violations.

In a press release regarding the investigation, wage and hour administrator, Jessica Looman, said: “Garment workers are often subject to stringent production requirements and receive some of the lowest wages in the country. The garment industry employment model involves multiple layers of contractors and sub-contractors and leaves workers vulnerable to wage theft and exploitation. This case demonstrates that the Wage and Hour Division will hold to account employers across the supply chain to ensure that workers receive the pay they have earned and the rights they are afforded by the law.”

Beyond Yoga
Workers Rights