Los Angeles-based garment supplier Justar Fashion failed to pay its workers minimum wage and overtime, sometimes paying them on a piece-rate basis instead, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division said last week.
The company will pay $145,290 in back wages for 32 employees, per the department’s notice. An email to Justar Fashion bounced back; there was no answer at a phone number listed for Justar, which was unable to take messages.
Justar’s clients include Stitch Fix, Indigo and Evereve, per the federal agency. However, Stitch Fix in an email said that “Justar Fashion doesn't produce apparel for Stitch Fix,” and that the e-retailer has asked the Labor Department for a correction. Indigo and Evereve didn’t return a request for comment. A Labor Department spokesperson didn’t immediately return a request for more information regarding Stitch Fix’s relationship to Justar.
The trouble at Justar shows that “made in America” doesn’t necessarily mean that garment workers are treated fairly. More than 45,000 workers, mostly Latino and Asian immigrants, cut and sew clothing in Los Angeles, according to the Garment Worker Center, an advocacy group.
Los Angeles has become the epicenter of the U.S. garment industry, and the latest finding from the Labor Department is just one in a long string of abuses cited by the agency. In 2015, the Garment Worker Center released a report detailing rodent and cockroach-infested facilities, inadequate plumbing and unclean bathrooms, and poor housing conditions.
Federal labor law protects all workers in the U.S. regardless of where they’re from, according to Rafael Valles, an assistant district director in California for the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour division.
“The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to making sure garment industry workers receive all of the wages they have earned, including overtime,” Valles said in a statement last week, adding that any worker should contact the office with questions about their wages and hours.