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Wage Debate In L.A.’s Garment District

A recent Los Angeles law that aims to boost the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020 has local manufacturers and designers who pride themselves in their made-in-L.A. garments in fear. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, Los Angeles’s new wage law will increase the base pay of urban minimum wages by 50 percent over five years. Advocates claim the change will provide much needed help for struggling families; manufacturers assert the added costs will undermine their competitiveness and drive businesses out of the city.

Wage Increase In Other Cities

Los Angeles is not the first or only city to establish an eventual increase in the minimum wage. San Francisco and Seattle have already established a $15 per hour wage floor. Unlike these two cities, however, L.A. is the first city with a low-wage manufacturing base to set such a high base. L.A. employs double the manufacturing workers as other manufacturing regions, including Detroit and Chicago. The outcome that results from the wage change is being closely watched by as many as eight other cities, such as New York and D.C. Beyond raising the floor for wages, the new law also requires L.A. to create an enforcement arm to address wage theft, a common practice in the apparel industry.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all employers are required to pay employees a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Local governments can set a higher minimum wage, as is the case for L.A. Unfortunately; there are several things that employers may do to get around federal or local minimum wage laws. This may include requiring employees to work “off the clock”, paying garment workers by the piece instead of by the hour, or compensating workers who did not make the minimum wage between tips and the hourly rate.

Under the L.A. plan, which was passed by a 3-2 vote, the county wage will begin to increase on July 1, 2016 to $10.50 per hour; $12 per hour in 2017; $13.25 per hour in 2018; $14.25 in 2019; and finally $15 per hour in 2020.

Contact a Los Angeles Employment Attorney

If you or someone you know believes their employer is not paying a fair wage, providing an unsafe work environment or is faced with any other type of employment issue, contact a Los Angeles employment attorney right away. The legal professionals at Levine & Blit, PLLC have years of advising clients on employment law issues, especially those concerning unpaid wages and overtime. For your free, no-obligation case evaluation contact a Los Angeles employment attorney at (212) 967-3000 today.

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