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DOWNTOWN : Garment Shops Cited During Inspections

March 07, 1993|IRIS YOKOI

Federal, state and local investigators swept through the Downtown garment district last week, inspecting several dozen businesses and issuing more than 100 citations for various workplace violations.

The three-day sweep was the first major garment industry raid by the Targeted Industries Partnership Program, a task force created by Gov. Pete Wilson in November. The task force was formed to crack down on the garment and agriculture industries, which have a historically high incidence of labor-law violations, said Rick Rice, spokesman for the state Department of Industrial Relations.

The number of citations issued last week demonstrates the garment industry "needs to wake up and start following the rules," Rice said. But at least one garment firm manager said the raid was conducted unfairly.

"They come in, they don't tell you anything and just search the place like you were hiding weapons or something," said Kim Khanna, manager of S. Kumar and Co. Inc. at 2320 S. Main St. "They were very rude; they don't let you explain."

S. Kumar was fined $1,500 and issued two workplace safety citations for not having a written injury- and illness-prevention policy and for locked exit doors, Rice said.

Khanna said the shop had not been opened when the inspector arrived early in the morning and that she gives safety training and tips to her employees on almost a daily basis. She said the business will probably appeal the citations.

Rice said a key reason for the violations is that many minimum-wage workers are unaware of their rights.

Most of the 77 sites inspected last week were Downtown, in the area of 8th, Main and South Spring streets, Rice said.

Twenty-five inspectors divided into teams and issued 122 citations carrying $430,200 in penalties. Another $204,766 in back wages must also be paid to employees by four business owners, Rice said.

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