CALIFORNIA – The US Department of Labor has achieved a significant milestone today by recovering over $1 million in back wages and damages, marking the largest compensation agreement ever awarded to garment workers in California.
This breakthrough follows the revelation of illegal practices by a garment contractor in Los Angeles, who not only unjustly denied payment for overtime hours but also attempted to cover up wage theft.
The investigation identified four sewing contractors in Los Angeles in blatant violation: Good Cash LLC and its associated entities, Good Cash Inc., Premium Quality Apparel LLC, and Premium Quality Apparel Inc. Ramon Tecum, Marisela Romero (also known as Diana Tecum), and Joseph Delao are the owners of Good Cash and Premium Quality Apparel. Surprisingly, former Deputy Labor Commissioner of California, Conrado Gomez, was also involved in these operations.
Investigators from the Wage and Hour Division found that the contractors intentionally stopped paying overtime to employees working an average of 52 hours per week. Additionally, falsified payroll records and fraudulent checks were discovered, aimed at concealing these illegal practices. In response to a court-authorized inspection, Tecum, Romero, and Gomez attempted to obstruct the investigation by shutting off power at the facility and forcing employees to leave the workplace.
During the investigation, a hot goods hold was imposed on the garments produced by the contractors for I Am Beyond LLC, operating under the Beyond Yoga brand. Federal law prohibits the interstate shipment of “hot goods” produced in violation of wage, overtime, or child labor regulations, applying to both the employer and anyone in possession of the goods.
In light of the violations by its contractors, Beyond Yoga agreed to comply with legal obligations and compensate $582,317 in back wages, along with an equal amount in damages. As a measure to strengthen compliance in its supply chain, Beyond Yoga has signed an enhanced compliance agreement, including updates to its code of conduct for garment contractors.
The Office of the Solicitor obtained a consent judgment in the US District Court for the Central District of California against Good Cash and Premium Apparel, demanding the payment of $200,000 in civil fines for intentional violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The imposition of sanctions in this case demonstrates that employers throughout the supply chain must be held accountable to ensure that workers receive their deserved pay and rights granted by the law.
It is crucial to remember that federal law prohibits retaliation, harassment, or intimidation against employees exercising their labor rights. Employers cannot take adverse actions for the exercise of these rights or for receiving rightfully owed wages as a result of labor investigations.
This case underscores the need for close supervision of supply chains by companies to ensure legality in the manufacturing of goods. The 2022 survey reveals that 80% of sewing contractors and manufacturers in Southern California incurred violations, emphasizing the importance of addressing these issues and protecting workers’ rights.