Posted on December 14, 2010 at 5:50 PM
BURIEN, Wash. - The City of Burien thought it had shut down a suspected sweatshop that was uncovered by the KING 5 Investigators.
But today, there’s word the business is still stitching away.
“Yes, I was in the shop (today)," said Burien code enforcer Jim Bibby. "I think I counted nine sewing machines. There was one lady working there," said Bibby, who ordered the business to close last month.
That was after KING 5 broadcast video of the small sewing factory inside the garage of Hao and Tu Nguyen.
When asked how much they were paying employees Hao Nguyen answered, “I pay eight, nine, ten dollars an hour.”
But two employees told KING 5 they were paid much less. Huong Duong says she worked at Hao's seven days a week.
"I tried to do the math,” said Duong. “They paid me just $2.66 per the hour."
She describes sweatshop conditions.
Since the business still appears to be operational, Bibby says he’ll consult with Burien’s City Attorney about the next step.
Our original story
traced the goods made in Hao's shop to to a Lakewood supplier of police and military gear.
Tactical Tailor boasts products “built for patriots by patriots.” But we found items that Hao paid workers pennies to make that were selling for $30 or $40 at Tactical Tailor.
Tactical Tailor says it terminated its contract with Hao after our story.
Huong Duong says she was forced to work at Hao's Sewing by an abusive husband.
After our story aired, the man who married her in Vietnam and brought her to the United States pled guilty to assault in King County court.
Huong Duong and her husband are divorcing, and she is reportedly receiving assistance and housing from a non-profit group.
Hao Nguyen would not talk with KING 5 when visited at his home today.
Hao’s Sewing remains under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor and Industries and the Employment Security Department for alleged wage, hour and workplace violations.