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What rights does a California garment employee have?

People in California who work in the garment industry are often immigrants or new to the workforce. With that, they might not fully understand the rights they are accorded under the law. The California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement protects these workers by investigating and handling any issue that might arise. Problems that are often relevant include being denied breaks or overtime, not receiving what they are supposed to under state hour and wage laws and poor workplace conditions. Even undocumented workers are protected.

Workers must know that they have certain rights when they are employed in this industry. They are supposed to receive the state minimum wage from their employer and no less than that. This is true whether they are working on piece rate, time, commission or through another metric. The worker is supposed to have a rest period that comes to a net of 10 minutes for every four hours during the time at work. When this is not provided, the employer has to pay the employee for an additional hour. A meal period of at least 30 minutes must be provided if the worker is on the job for more than five hours. If this is not given, the worker should receive an additional hour of pay.

When an injury happens during work, the employee can file a claim for workers’ compensation. If certain tools are needed to do the job, the employer should provide them at no cost to the worker. Garment workers should have all the required safety equipment for their health. When wages are paid, the employee has the right to receive a wage statement or pay stub. This is true regardless of the way the wages are paid. Workers are supposed to receive overtime even if they are paid based on piece rate.

If a worker is dismissed, the worker has the right to receive all the wages that are owed on the same day. If the worker has quit, the pay should be given within 72 hours. Employers can be penalized by having to pay the former employee the equal of a day’s wages for every day that payment is delayed up to 30 days. Finally, the employee has the right to file a wage claim, a complaint regarding discrimination or to contact the labor commissioner. Immigration status is irrelevant. Since garment workers are vulnerable to mistreatment, it is important that they understand their rights under wage and hour law. An employment attorney can assist with determining whether there was a violation and pursuing a legal case.

Source: dir.ca.gov, “In California Garment Workers Have Rights,” accessed on Nov. 22, 2016


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