Recently, garment workers in California have had a reason to cheer. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the Garment Worker Protection Act. This law is the first in the country to eliminate piece rate pay for these workers and instead require them to be paid hourly wages.
What is the new law?
The new law prevents employment discrimination by effectively making garment workers equal to any other employees. The Garment Worker Protection Act will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022 and prevent garment workers from being paid a rate by the piece. They will then be required to receive an hourly wage. Garment manufacturers or contractors who fail to do that will be fined $200 per cheated employee.
If any employee is cheated out of the wages they are rightfully due, whether they are a direct employee of an employer or even if they work as an independent contractor for a manufacturer or brand guarantor, they are protected by the new employment law. The entity that violates the new law will be found in violation and will be responsible for paying wages, other types of compensation and attorney’s fees if a legal complaint is filed.
How else does the new law protect garment workers?
In addition to the new hourly wage, the law protects garment workers in other ways. It also covers other employment law issues such as wage theft and unpaid wages. Employees who are cheated will have the legal right to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner. If the issue is withheld wages or the employee is paid per piece instead of per hour, the manufacturer or brand guarantor can be held liable.
The Garment Worker Protection Act will go even further. It will require manufacturers and brand guarantors to keep all essential paperwork such as invoices, contracts, work and purchase orders, style or cut sheets and anything else relevant for no less than four years.
Garment workers should be able to breathe a sigh of relief. California will soon be a better place for them to earn a living.