Los Angeles Apparel Contractor Fined for Underpaying Employees

After a six-month investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a nearly $54,000 fine against a Los Angeles garment sewing contractor for underpaying 21 employees.

ESS Apparel Inc., which is owned by Young Suk Song, was charged with violating the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

ESS Apparel did not return phone calls for a request to comment.

According to the Labor Department, ESS Apparel, located at 813 E. Slauson Ave., paid employees a flat rate for each piece sewn without taking into consideration the number of hours they worked.

This resulted in minimum-wage violations when piece rates failed to cover all the time worked at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and in unpaid overtime, the Labor Department said.

Also, the majority of the employees did not appear in ESS Apparel’s records and were paid in cash, the government said.

The Department of Labor said ESS Apparel will pay $53,876 to 21 employees.

“Employers must not allow unlawful labor practices that hurt hardworking employees and prevent law-abiding employers from competing on a level playing field,” said Rodolfo Cortez, the Wage and Hour Division District director in San Diego, Calif.

The Department of Labor said the investigation took place from Oct. 1, 2018, to April 2, 2019. It did not say who or what tipped the department off to launch an investigation. Labor inspectors said they conduct investigations for a number of reasons, but many are initiated by complaints, which remain confidential.