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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Employment Standards Administration

ESA Press Release: U.S. Labor Department Continues Aggressive Nationwide Enforcement in the Garment Industry [05/14/1997]

For more information call: 202/219-8211

The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that five recent enforcement sweeps in the nation's major garment centers have identified more than 500 employees who are owed more than $320,500 in back wages and overtime.

"These sweeps are one more example of our determination to protect the rights and wages of garment workers," said Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman. "We will keep applying the pressure, but I also will continue to call on the industry to take a leadership role in protecting these workers."

Beginning in February, investigators from the department's Wage and Hour Division targeted five cities for enforcement: New York, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Santa Ana, Cal.

New York

The March sweep of New York contractor shops found three shops in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act(FLSA). One of the shops investigated, L&M, had monetary violations totaling $6,500, which prompted the department to invoke the "hot goods" provisions of the FLSA. This prevented the shipment of garments made in violation by two manufacturers, Why Not and Carol Wren, Inc., until the violations were resolved. Carol Wren subsequently agreed to sign the department's compliance monitoring agreement.

Investigations were conducted jointly with the State of New York's Apparel Industry Task Force in the Williamsburg and Sunset Park sections of Brooklyn. This sweep marked the first occasion where the Federal and State Departments of Labor joined forces to conduct garment investigations.


Nearly $50,000 in back wages were found due 81 garment employees in three contractor shops. Four investigations discovered employees illegally sewing women's apparel in their homes. One contractor paid $8,960 in civil money penalties for repeat and willful violations. The department obtained an administrative subpoena in one investigation, which required the contractor to provide business records. As a result of the investigations in this enforcement sweep, 11 manufacturers were contacted regarding the violations and the potential for "hot goods" violations.


All eight contractor shops investigated in Chicago were in violation of the FLSA; they owed 83 employees more than $12,000 in back wages. The majority of the back wages are from failure to pay overtime. One of the more significant cases involved A&H Apparel Contractors, which manufactures clothing for its catalog sales division under the Scorpio label. The shop underpaid 26 workers $4,853. A&H employees did not receive the appropriate overtime premium and employees who were paid by the piece did not earn minimum wage.

The State of Illinois Department of Labor joined with Wage and Hour investigators in four of these eight first-time investigations.

Los Angeles

An enforcement sweep during the first week of April found nine contractor shops owing 300 employees more than $235,000 in back wages. The majority of the back wages are for failure to pay overtime. Civil money penalties of $35,050 were assessed against two contractor shops, Chiu Heng Fashion and Vincent Garment, for repeat violations of the FLSA.

One significant case involved Vincent Garment of South El Monte, which underpaid 86 employees by $100,000. The shop manipulated its computerized time-keeping system to show payment of overtime when, in fact, no overtime was paid to the employees. The manufacturer, Balkster's Inc., which is signatory to the department's compliance monitoring agreement, cooperated fully with the investigation, promptly paying the $100,000 in back wages to the employees.

Santa Ana

The most recent strike force, conducted with the State of California under the Targeted Industries Partnership Program (TIPP) in the Santa Ana area, found 10 contract shops in violation. Five of the shops investigated were found illegally employing homeworkers to sew women's apparel, an occupation prohibited in the home. Back wage estimates for five of the ten shops found in violation thus far total $17,000.

_________________________________________________________________ The information in this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. TDD Message Referral Phone: 1-800-326-2577, Voice phone: (202) 219-7316.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employment Standards Administration
May 14, 1997
Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number