Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced the formation of the Labor Justice Unit on Wednesday, spotlighting the pressing issue of labor violations in the county. The newly established unit wasted no time and immediately filed seven felony charges against garment industry business owners Soon Ae Park and Lawrence Lee. These employers allegedly paid their workforce as little as $6 an hour without providing overtime.
Detailing the recurring issues with the accused business owners, California Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower said, “We have a pattern of one or two workers speaking up and filing a claim with my office and the employer resolving that claim. At that point, that employer understood that how they were operating their business was illegal — against the law — and they had the opportunity to come into compliance, but they failed to do so.”
The garment industry’s breadth is considerable, housing more than 30,000 workers. Garcia-Brower added depth to the concern by noting, “An industry that is rampant of violations, that is predominantly women workers, immigrants who do not speak English, who speak Spanish and other Asian languages. We now have a growth of Indigenous workers speaking Indigenous languages.”
Gascón provided a clear definition of wage theft, stating it “occurs when employers deny workers their rightful wages, benefits, or overtime pay.” He further highlighted the severity of the issue, saying, “Studies estimate that billions of dollars are stolen from workers each year through wage theft, making it a significant economic concern.”
On the impact of wage theft in LA, Garcia-Brower mentioned, “We all know that stress impacts our physical wellbeing, and this is something that spills over in our families, in our communities. So wage theft absolutely cannot be tolerated.”
Have you been impacted by wage theft or workplace injustices? If so, we have got you covered! Connect with the Labor Law Advocates in California, a dedicated team of legal experts ready to fight for your rights and ensure that justice is served. You don’t have to face these challenges alone – reach out to us today and let’s work together to protect your rights and secure a fair and just workplace.