Feb 26, 2016 04:30 AM EST

US Labor Department Sustains Fight Against LA Garment Industry For Worker Abuse

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Wednesday its consent judgment that calls for one of the biggest off-price retailers and one of the main clothing suppliers in the United States to pay back wages amounting to $212,000.

This amount will be paid to workers of Ross Store's garment subcontractors for overtime and minimum wage violations.

The judgment sustains the agency's multi-year implementation of the crackdown against garment manufacturers in Southern California which was initially highlighted in Los Angeles last November by David Weil, the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division.

That news report based on data from the U.S. Labor Department indicated that the "widespread labor violations by employers in the Southern California garment industry are costing workers millions of dollars a year in unpaid wages."

"During fiscal year 2014, the department's Wage and Hour Division conducted 221 investigations of employers in this industry, almost all in and around Los Angeles, and found $3,004,085 in unpaid wages for 1,549 workers. The division said that amounted to an average of $1,900 per worker, which is five times the amount a typical sewing machine operator earns in a week," the report continued.

The officials of the Wage and Hour Division in Southern California have concluded more than 1,000 investigations in the last five years. This resulted in the garment industry paying over $11.7 million in back wages to workers.

"We are using all means necessary to bring justice for L.A.'s garment workers, whether that means enforcement, outreach and education, or going up the supply chain to engage the retailers selling these clothes," Weil said.

He also added that Los Angeles should not continue to witness old 19th century sweatshop conditions in modern 21st century garment factories.

The consent judgment handed down on Wednesday by the U.S. District Court for Central California in Los Angeles requires Ross Stores to pay $212,000 for the back wages of 270 employees of its subcontractors.

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