Los Angeles Business Journal

BYD Hires Counsel in Workplace Violations Probe

By Business Journal Staff Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chinese electric bus manufacturer BYD Co. Ltd. has hired an international law firm to represent its U.S. division in an ongoing investigation by the California Department of Industrial Relations into workplace violations, the company said Wednesday.

The department has cited the manufacturing firm for violations at its plant in Lancaster and its North American headquarters in Los Angeles. It has been hit for not paying its employees the state’s minimum wage, not providing worker’s compensation insurance, failure to provide itemized wage statements, and not giving a second brief rest break.

The Los Angeles office of Paul Hastings LLP is investigating the issues and working on a resolution on the matter, BYD said in a statement. Headquartered in New York, Paul Hastings is an international law firm representing financial institutions and Fortune Global 500 companies.

“As a new company in California, we are learning the rules and if there are any issues of concern we are dedicated to fixing them,” BYD said in the statement.

The industrial relations department has already levied $99,245 in fines against the Chinese company. The department cited 122 violations at the Lancaster facility between late August and Oct. 10, according to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

In its statement, BYD said it believed that the citations were “premature” due to language barriers or other misunderstandings. “If the Labor Commissioner had reached out to us to raise and discuss in a conciliatory manner any concerns that it had, BYD would have been pleased to participate,” the company said.

BYD owns one building in Lancaster for assembly of electric buses, and leases a second for battery-pack assembly. Operations at the bus plant began in May to produce buses for Long Beach Transit and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The investigation into BYD remains active, a department spokesperson said.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has about a 10 percent stake in the manufacturer of vehicles and batteries.