New Garment Worker Protection Act Strengthens Enforcement and Will Change Industry Practices
Los Angeles—The Labor Commissioner’s Office has revoked the license of a Los Angeles garment manufacturer for providing false information on its license application and repeatedly failing to follow labor laws.
VRP Fashion, Inc. owner Veronica Rojas Pablo stated in her garment manufacturers license application that the business had no employees. But an onsite inspection at the West 6th Street facility on May 19, 2021, revealed workers sewing garments. The Labor Commissioner’s Office cited Pablo after she did not provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance coverage and ordered her to stop work until such coverage was purchased. Pablo did not respond to the order nor did she appeal the citations. She barred an inspector from a follow-up visit and had workers leave the premises from a back exit.
Multiple attempts were made to contact the employer, but by September 2021 the business was vacated and the citations unpaid.
“Garment manufacturing employers are legally obligated to follow the law as a condition of being granted a manufacturing license,” said Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower. “This employer was found to have willfully violated the law and obstructed our investigation.”
Garment Worker Protection Act
A new law going into effect in 2022 will change the way many garment manufacturers operate. On January 1, Senate Bill 62, also known as the Garment Worker Protection Act, will eliminate piece rate compensation that pays garment workers by the number of units produced. The Act will require workers be paid at least the minimum wage at an hourly rate. It also adds requirements for record keeping and expands the responsibility for manufacturers.
“The Garment Worker Protection Act creates a higher standard for California workers in this industry,” said Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower. “It eliminates piece rate compensation, which is a predatory structure that historically facilitates wage theft. Eliminating piece rate pay should help alleviate pressures workers experience to forgo rest breaks and other health and safety protections.”
Free Training – Tuesday, January 25th
The Labor Commissioner’s Office invites industry employers and manufacturers to register for a free training on the Garment Worker Protection Act scheduled for Tuesday, January 25 at 2 p.m. This is the second training for employers in the garment industry held by the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Deputies from the Labor Commissioner’s Office have also been conducting in-person outreach to garment industry employers on the new law.
The Garment Manufacturing Act of 1980 requires that all industry employers register with the Labor Commissioner and demonstrate adequate character, competency and responsibility, including by maintaining workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Garment manufacturers who contract with unregistered entities are automatically deemed joint employers of the workers in the contract facility. Clothing confiscated from illegal operations cannot be sold and will be donated to non-profit organizations.
The Labor Commissioner also administers a special wage claim adjudication process for garment workers pursuant to California’s AB 633, passed in 1999. This law provides not only an expedited process for garment workers to file wage claims but also provides a wage guarantee where garment manufacturers are responsible for wage theft at their contractors’ facilities.
The Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (California Labor Commissioner’s Office) combats wage theft and unfair competition by investigating allegations of illegal and unfair business practices.
The Labor Commissioner’s Office in 2020 launched an interdisciplinary outreach campaign, “Reaching Every Californian.” The campaign amplifies basic protections and builds pathways to affected populations so workers and employers understand legal protections and obligations, and the Labor Commissioner’s enforcement procedures. Californians can follow the Labor Commissioner on Facebook and Twitter.
Contact: [email protected], (510) 286-1161