A US garment manufacturer has been temporarily restrained from shipping orders to its buyer Charlotte Russe after an investigation found it to have committed overtime and wage violations.

A US Department of Labor investigation found RK Apparel Inc had committed "widespread violations" of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which rendered the garments manufactured and assembled by those workers "hot goods unfit for shipment or sale through interstate commerce".

Division investigators found that RK Apparel's contractor HDK Ave. Inc. paid its employees well below the federal minimum wage of US$7.25 per hour, with some receiving pay as low as $4 per hour. The employer required employees to work up to 58 hours per week but paid them only a piece rate, earning a flat amount per garment produced, and did not pay overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a work week, as required by federal law.

The findings resulted in legal action, with the US District Court for the Central District of California issuing a temporary restraining order to prevent the Los Angeles garment manufacturer from shipping clothes its customer Charlotte Russe.

The company advised the department it would not ship the hot goods, but then proceeded to ship a batch.

"Whenever goods are produced in violation of the FLSA's minimum wage, overtime, or child labour provisions, the US Department of Labor can restrain those goods from being shipped in interstate commerce. This action is commonly referred to as invoking the 'hot goods' provision," says Janet Herold, regional solicitor in Los Angeles. "This action demonstrates that we will use all of the tools provided by law to ensure that employees receive the pay they have legally earned and that law-abiding employers are not undercut by unfair competition."