State labor regulators dropped citations against Chinese electric bus manufacturer Build Your Dreams that accused them of paying several of its workers in California below minimum wage.
The company, known as BYD, is presenting evidence at a Tuesday hearing with the state’s Department of Industrial Relations over additional citations regarding employee rest breaks and inaccurate pay stubs.
BYD’s U.S. headquarters are located in downtown Los Angeles, and it opened a bus manufacturing facility in Lancaster last year. It has won contracts to provide electric-powered buses to agencies including the L.A. County Metropolitan Transit Authority.
BYD was the subject of a probe by the labor agency last year into its workplace practices. In October, investigators raided its headquarters and its bus factory.
The labor agency issued citations for nearly $100,000. About $12,000 was for back wages owed to workers who were allegedly paid less than the $8 an hour required by California law.
Investigators dropped the citation after BYD officials shared evidence that showed the five workers who were allegedly paid less than minimum wage were employees of the parent company in China and were working with the California subsidiaries on temporary assignments, said Lanny Davis, an attorney working for BYD.
The company provided those documents to The Times, including pay stub and bank account statements, showing that the workers received the equivalent of $12.69 to $16.91 an hour while working at the California facilities, although they were paid in Chinese currency.
Although the commissioner’s office agreed to drop the citations for paying below minimum wage, BYD agreed to pay $1,900 in penalties for paying the workers in Chinese currency instead of dollars.
“After all these many months of being harmed by this false accusation of paying sub-minimum wages, repeated by people without knowledge, we are satisfied that the truth has finally won out regarding BYD’s labor practices,” Davis said.
On Tuesday, the company was also presenting witnesses to dispute other citations alleging the company issued inaccurate or incomplete wage statements and also failed to give its workers in Lancaster two 10-minute breaks a day. BYD said workers instead preferred to take one 20-minute break.
Davis said the minimum wage dispute stems from a lobbying effort by BYD competitors as part of a “disinformation effort.”
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