A recent investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, conducted under a multi-year enforcement initiative in Southern California’s garment industry, revealed evidence of significant violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions by vendors supplying goods to Forever 21.
The Labor Department had subpoenaed the retailer asking for backup documents. But Forever 21 evidently refused to comply with the subpoena, forcing the Labor Department to file against the retailer in the U.S. District Court for the Central District, California.
“We are disappointed that Forever 21 has refused to cooperate with the subpoena, particularly given the significant problems we have found among its suppliers,” said Ruben Rosalez, regional administrator for the division in the West.
“Since 2008, our investigators have identified dozens of manufacturers producing goods for Forever 21 under sweatshop-like conditions.
“When companies like Forever 21 refuse to comply with subpoenas, they demonstrate a clear disregard for the law, and the Labor Department will use all enforcement tools available to recover workers’ wages and hold employers accountable.”
The investigation is focusing on employers in the Los Angeles and Orange counties, as well as those operating out of large garment buildings in Los Angeles’ Fashion District.
The Labor Department said that over the past five years its Los Angeles, San Diego and West Covina offices have carried out more than 1,500 investigations and that violations were found in 93% of them.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires workers to be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week.
Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law.