$1.1 Million Back Wages Recovered for Los Angeles Garment Workers

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$1.1 Million Back Wages Recovered for Los Angeles Garment Workers

An employee tosses a garment onto a stack after sewing his portion of it at the a garment factory in Los Angeles on Dec. 14, 2004. (David McNew/Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

1/4/2024

Updated: 1/12/2024

LOS ANGELES—Federal labor regulators said Jan. 3 that more than $1 million in back wages and damages have been recovered for 165 workers from a Los Angeles garment contractor—allegedly linked to a former deputy state labor commissioner—who denied them overtime pay and tried to conceal it.
The U.S. Department of Labor called the settlement its largest to date for California garment workers.
The investigations found four Los Angeles sewing contractors 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.
Investigators also determined that former California Deputy Labor Commissioner Conrado Gomez—who apparently retired from his state office in 2010, after almost 25 years—played a “significant” role in the businesses, labor regulators said.
More information on Mr. Gomez was not immediately available.
Regulators said investigators from the department’s Wage and Hour Division discovered the contractors willfully failed to pay overtime wages for hours over 40 in a workweek to employees who worked an average of 52 hours per week. The division said it also learned the contractors falsified payroll records and issued fake checks to mask their illegal pay practices.
When the department executed a court-authorized investigative inspection warrant, Mr. Tecum, Mrs. Romero, and Mr. Gomez attempted to interfere by pretending to be workers, shutting off the power to the facility, and ordering employees to leave the worksite, the department said.
During the investigation, the department enforced a hot goods hold on the apparel produced by the contractors’ employees for I Am Beyond LLC, doing business as the Beyond Yoga apparel brand, according to labor regulators.
Federal law prevents interstate shipment of “hot goods” produced in violation of minimum wage, overtime or child labor regulations and applies to the employer and anyone in possession of the goods.
When informed of its contractors’ violations, Beyond Yoga agreed to make good on its contractors’ legal obligations and pay $582,317 in back wages and an equal amount in damages. To improve compliance in their product supply chain, Beyond Yoga entered into an enhanced compliance agreement with the division, which includes updating its code of conduct for garment contractors.
The agreement requires full compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, establishes a monitoring program and directs all contractors to display information for workers on how to file complaints of potential labor violations confidentially, including through Beyond Yoga’s worker hotline, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Garment workers are often subject to stringent production requirements and receive some of the lowest wages in the country,” Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman said in a statement.
“The garment industry employment model involves multiple layers of contractors and sub-contractors and leaves workers vulnerable to wage theft and exploitation,” she continued. “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.”
The Office of the Solicitor obtained a consent judgment in Los Angeles federal court against the Good Cash and Premium Apparel entities and its owners. The judgment requires Good Cash and Premium Quality Apparel to pay $200,000 in civil money penalties for its willful Fair Labor Standards Act violations.
In 2021, the division cited Good Cash for similar violations and recovered $29,413 in back wages for nine workers and assessed $3,921 in penalties in a separate investigation, the department said.
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