The U.S. Department of Labor’s Hours and Wage Division is currently after mass retailer Forever 21 because of noncompliance.
The Department of Labor issued a subpoena on Aug. 16, WWD says, for documentation about the labor practices of the company’s manufacturers and contractors, with which Forever 21 failed to comply. The issue? Forever 21 and its affiliates’ adherence to the minimum wage established by the Fair Labor Standards Act has been called into question. The Labor Department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in L.A. has now filed for legal action in the U.S. District Court to get the subpoena enforced.
Ruben Rosalez, regional administrator for the Labor Department’s division in the West, said the following about the case:
“Since 2008, our investigators have identified dozens of manufacturers producing goods for Forever 21 under sweatshoplike conditions. When companies like Forever 21 refuse to comply with subpoenas, they demonstrate a clear disregard for the law, and the Labor Department will use all enforcement tools available to recover workers’ wages and hold employers accountable.”
Even further, there’s some pretty damning evidence against the company, Wage and Hours Division Director Priscilla Garcia said in an interview with Huffington Post:
“We have proof that the goods going to Forever 21 from certain garment contractor shops are being sewn by people who aren’t being paid properly.”
Yikes. The next legal step would be a court hearing, but no date has been set for one. Forever 21, who does many things of questionable legality, isn’t the only mass-market retailer to come under fire for labor practices this week. On Friday, we learned that H&M has been paying its Cambodian employees less than 25% of the living wage. Looks like fast fashion comes at a hefty price.