Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Santa Ana, Calif., garment contractor ordered to pay nearly $173,000 in back wages
District court issues decision on case brought by US Department of Labor
SAN FRANCISCO -- A U.S. district court judge has issued a decision in a Fair Labor Standards Act case brought by the U.S. Department of Labor against Santa Ana, Calif., garment contractor Best Miracle Corp., owner Thuy Thi Le and her husband, Toan Van Nguyen. The decision awards $172,832 in overtime back wages plus interest to 47 workers.
“The U.S. Department of Labor stands by these vulnerable workers and will continue to devote our resources to ensuring that they – and all workers across the country – are paid in accordance with federal law,” said George Friday, western regional administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. “This employer knowingly flaunted the law by failing to properly pay these workers.”
The Department of Labor also has assessed $24,543 in civil money penalties against Best Miracle.
The decision followed a seven-day trial that included testimony by former employees about their working conditions. Judge Cormac J. Carney of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California concluded that the defendants “brazenly disregarded the FLSA by exploiting low-wage garment workers and requiring them to work long hours without proper compensation.” He also commented that federal labor laws were enacted to protect workers from such “sweatshop practices.” Additionally, the judge found that Best Miracle “devised a system of falsifying records” to avoid paying overtime wages to employees who worked in excess of 60 hours a week and used “fear and bribes to prevent employees from reporting Best Miracle to the authorities.”
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA also prohibits the shipment of goods in interstate commerce which were produced in violation of the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, or special minimum wage provisions.
The Labor Department’s Office of the Solicitor represented the secretary of labor in the case, which resulted from an investigation initiated by the Wage and Hour Division’s Orange Area Office in 2007. For more information about the FLSA, call the division’s Orange Area Office at 714-621-1650 or the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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