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State and federal officials conduct joint raids on L.A.'s garment district

Under California law, all employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance so that their employees will be adequately protected in the event of a serious work-related accident. Failure to carry this mandated coverage can have incredibly severe consequences. For example, uninsured employers face criminal prosecution, large fines from the California Labor Commissioner, civil lawsuits from injured workers and the possibility of business closure.

Employers must also realize that California officials are always on the lookout for businesses that fail to carry the necessary level of work comp coverage and will frequently conduct surprise investigations.

To illustrate, California Labor Commissioner Julie Su announced the results of a "joint agency enforcement action" by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Labor on employers in Los Angeles' garment district just last week.

According to reports, DOL officials first identified ten L.A. garment shops as potential violators of state and federal labor laws. Next, the 50-person task force divided into teams of five and conducted simultaneous raids on the targeted shops, which employ a total of 199 people.

The raids uncovered multiple violations of California law, including failures to carry work comp coverage and failures to secure a garment license. As a result, DLSE officials issued citations totaling $217,844 to the noncompliant employers.

As for the DOL officials, they are currently conducting audits to determine the amount of wages owed for minimum wage and overtime violations.

"Enforcement partnerships provide an added leverage in identifying and bringing into compliance employers who break laws designed to protect vulnerable workers," said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations. "Our efforts are designed to protect workers and eliminate the unfair competitive advantage that law breakers have over compliant businesses."

If you are an uninsured California employer facing a real problem -- prospective fine, prosecution, an employee injury or litigation -- there are steps that can be taken to minimize the consequences. In these difficult circumstances, you may want to consider consulting with an experienced legal professional.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


California Department of Industrial Relations, "California Labor Commissioner partners with U.S. Department of Labor, joint inspections conducted in the heart of L.A. garment district," Aug. 8, 2012

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