California-based garment manufacturer O&K Apparel has been fined almost US$500,000 for wage violations.

The Labor commissioner, Julie Su, said the company will have to pay $113,785 in overtime wages for 110 employees, penalties of $61,450 for failing to pay proper overtime, and $307,250 for issuing improper itemised/deduction statements.

"Employers must pay workers the wages they've earned," said Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). "And the Labor Commissioner's office will protect their rights, as well as the rights of honest businesses and taxpayers."

O&K Apparel makes women's garments in Los Angeles and pays its employees by the piece. Under the law, garment contractors are required to provide accurate, itemised statements to employees showing total hours worked by the employees, or if paid by the piece, they must show the number of pieces produced by specific manufacturers and the rate of pay for each piece in addition to the total number of hours worked.

"There is no place for sweatshop conditions in our 21st century economy. Piece rate payment cannot be used as an end-run around the basic requirement that all workers in California receive a just day's pay for a hard day's work, including overtime pay for overtime hours worked," said Su.

"In addition, California law requires itemized wage statements so employees know how much they worked and what they earned. In this case, the pay stubs did not include any of that information, which makes it hard for workers to know when their wages are being stolen right out from under them."