On January 1, 2022, Senate Bill 62, known as the Garment Worker Protection Act, went into effect.
The Act – which was largely in response to a 2016 study showing that garment workers in California were typically paid less than half the minimum wage – is intended to prevent wage theft, mandate fair pay and improve working conditions for garment workers throughout California.
At the Consumer & Employment Law Group, we make it our job to fight against those taking advantage of people. We have decades of experience working with employees on both class action lawsuits and individual cases. Here’s everything you need to know about the Act that went into effect earlier this year.
What Does the Garment Worker Protection Act Do?
The goal of the Garment Worker Protection Act is to improve working conditions for the roughly 45,000 garment workers employed in California, most of whom are immigrant women.
Among other things, the Act:
- Prohibits employers from paying employees on a piece-rate basis;
- Creates joint and several liability for unpaid wages for “brand guarantors,” along with manufacturers and contractors; and
- Creates new record keeping requirements for manufacturers and brand guarantors.
Under the Act, a “brand guarantor” is defined as anyone contracting for the performance of garment manufacturing.
The term “garment manufacturing” refers to preparing any garment or accessories designed or intended to be worn by an individual, for sale or resale by any person or persons contracting to have those operations performed.
These tasks can include:
- altering, or
- affixing a label
Why is this Act Important for California Workers?
The Act is significant for several reasons.
- First, eliminating piece-rate pay ensures that workers are paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked. In addition, because piece-rate work places a premium on speed, requiring employers to pay workers on an hourly basis may reduce health and safety risks in the workplace. Under the Act, for each pay period in which an employee is paid by the piece, garment manufacturers and contractors will be subject to compensatory damages of $200 per employee.
- Second, the Act clarifies ambiguities in existing garment worker laws, which allowed deep-pocketed clothing brands to avoid being classified as garment manufacturers, and thus escape liability for wage and hour violations by creating multiple layers of contractors and subcontractors. Under the Act, a garment worker may recover unpaid wages, as well as civil penalties, interest and attorneys’ fees, from not only the garment manufacturer or contractor, but also from the brand guarantor.
- Finally, the Act imposes enhanced record keeping requirements on garment manufacturers. Under the Act, garment manufacturers are required to keep timekeeping, payroll, and production records for four years. In addition, garment manufacturers must maintain all contracts, invoices, purchase orders, work orders, and style or cut sheets, including the business names, addresses and contact information of the contracting parties.
Workers may seek to recover unpaid wages by filing a claim against the contractor, garment manufacturer and brand guarantor with the Labor Commissioner.
Additionally, the Act does not preclude an employee from pursuing other applicable remedies under state or federal law, including through a class or representative action.
Contact the Consumer & Employment Law Group Today
If you work in the garment industry and believe you are not being paid the wages you are entitled to, contact Clark Law Group at 619-239-1321 to discuss your options.
We’ve tried hundreds of cases fighting for the people. Let us help you right the wrong that you’ve been subjected to.