IR# 94-23
Wednesday, May 18, 1994

John Duncan
Paul Lynd
Rick Rice (LA)
(714) 935-2812

Los Angeles Area Garment Sweep Nets Arrest, Violations

SAN FRANCISCO -- A surprise week-long multi-agency sweep of the garment industry in Los Angeles and Orange counties resulted in the arrest of one garment shop owner and issuance of citations to numerous others for violations of state and federal labor laws, announced Lloyd W. Aubry, Jr., Director of the California Department of Industrial Relations. Penalties accompanying the citations, together with assessments for back wages due to employees are well in excess of $2,000,000, Aubry said.

The arrest of Doo Houn Won, who had been operating a garment manufacturing business under the name of Better Looks Garment, 4202 Montclaire Street, Los Angeles, 90018, was the result of a previous investigation by state labor officials. He had been cited for failure to register with the State Labor Commissioner as a garment manufacturer, failure to pay minimum wage and overtime to employees, for payment of wages in cash and for recordkeeping violations. Won also failed to carry workers' compensation coverage for his employees.

When Won failed to appear in court on March 21 for arraignment proceedings a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. As a result of a tip from a legitimate garment manufacturer, he was subsequently found operating under the name of Freeway Garment at another location, apparently having abandoned Better Looks Garment, his previous business. The arrest occurred on April 27th and Won is scheduled for trial on May 25, 1994.

The sweep which netted the arrest of Won was conducted by the Targeted Industries Partnership Program (TIPP), a coordinated education and enforcement effort designed to improve compliance with state and federal labor and tax laws in California's garment and agriculture industries. The effort, under the direction of California labor commissioner Victoria Bradshaw, utilizes resources and information from various federal, state and local agencies to target its enforcement efforts for maximum impact.

Working in teams, investigators fan out over garment manufacturing areas, making surprise visits to pre-designated shops where illegal activities are suspected. When violations are found, each agency then pursues its cases under its own procedures and laws which it is charged to enforce.

"This latest garment industry sweep closely follows a survey of the industry which indicated that compliance with labor, tax and workplace safety and health laws was unacceptably low, particularly in the Los Angeles area" said Bradshaw. "With the help of law-abiding, legitimate garment manufacturers who continue to provide us with information on those operating outside of the law, we were extremely productive in rooting out violators in the Los Angeles area."

Participants in the sweep included the California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Labor Standards Enforcement which is headed by Bradshaw, and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's Garment Registration Unit, and the Orange County District Attorney's Welfare Fraud Unit. In addition, the agencies refer cases to the California Employment Development Department for audit when it is suspected that employers are evading employment taxes.

In all, 65 businesses were cited by the Labor Commissioner's office resulting in total penalties and wages due employees estimated at $1,794,600. Eighteen citations were issued for paying employees in cash without itemized wage statements; one for failure to pay minimum wages; 52 for registration and recordkeeping violations; ten for illegal employment of minors; and four for failure to pay proper overtime wages. Additionally, 16 businesses were found not to have workers' compensation insurance and were ordered to discontinue operations until each obtained a valid policy. Garments were also confiscated in 16 shops which were not registered as garment manufacturers with the State Labor Commissioner as the law requires. Four shops were also referred to the Employment Development Department for audits.

Wage and Hour Division regional administrator William Buhl will announce federal violations and fines resulting from the sweep within two weeks. The agency is finalizing action on claims against more than 20 employers for unpaid overtime an minimum wages of approximately $550,000 owed to almost 800 employees.

"The concentrated effort under TIPP is having an impact on the level of compliance in the garment industry," said Buhl. "As TIPP continues, we also continue to call on responsible retailers, manufacturers and sewing contractors to make the commitment to assist in achieving the goal of total compliance within the industry." Cal/OSHA, which enforces workplace safety and health laws, found 288 violations and issued citations carrying penalties of an estimated $73,795.

Violations found were primarily for failure to have adequate injury and illness prevention programs, for electrical dangers and tripping and fire hazards.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued two citations carrying penalties of $6,000 each and is requiring four business owners to participate in administrative hearings.


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