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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [01/10/2011]
Contact Name: Deanne Amaden or Jose A. Carnevali
Phone Number: (415) 625-2630 or x2631
Release Number: 10-1789-SAN

US Labor Department recovers nearly $160,000 in back wages for 110 Los Angeles garment workers

Employees produced jeans sold at major nationwide retailers

LOS ANGELES — Clothing manufacturer Joe's Jeans has paid $158,952 in back wages owed to 110 garment workers who worked for one of the company's Los Angeles-based sewing contractors. The action results from an agreement between Joe's Jeans in Commerce, Calif., and the U.S. Department of Labor following an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division that found the contractor failed to pay the workers minimum wage and overtime as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“This company was enjoying high profits on the backs of vulnerable workers who were not even paid the minimum wage or overtime,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “We expect employers to take responsibility to ensure that anyone manufacturing their products follows the law, and if they do not, we will take necessary actions to ensure that they do.”

The contractor, Angel's Finishing Inc., worked exclusively for Joe's Jeans, finishing jeans that were later shipped throughout the U.S. and sold at major department stores including Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Dillard's, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.

Investigators found that Angel's Finishing paid its employees on a piece-rate basis without regard for minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for all hours worked, including some Saturdays and Sundays. Additionally, the investigators found that weekend work was not recorded on employee time cards.

Joe's Jeans has paid the full amount of back wages for a two-year period and agreed to a plan promoting compliance by all its contractors. Under the plan, Joe's Jeans will conduct periodic monitoring of its contractors for FLSA compliance. The plan also calls for various education and outreach efforts, and a discussion about the financial terms of the contracts to ensure the contractors' financial ability to comply. Although in this case Joe's Jeans stepped forward to cover the full amount of back wages due, the Wage and Hour Division also assessed Angel's Finishing and its owners, Daisy Mazariegos and Estuardo Santizo, $41,140 in civil money penalties for willfully violating the law by falsifying employees' time records.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 per week. Employers must maintain accurate time and payroll records. For more information about the FLSA, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or call the division's Los Angeles District Office at 626-966-0478. Information is also available in the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.