A workers' advocacy group filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday against the popular teen clothing retailer Forever 21 Inc., alleging it engaged in unfair labor practices by systematically contracting work out to sweatshops.
The lawsuit by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center named 19 workers who allegedly sewed, ironed or packed Forever 21 clothing six days a week, sometimes 12 hours a day, for far less than the minimum wage. The 19 worked for six different contractors who produced clothing for the company, the suit said, suggesting the problems were not isolated.
The suit also claimed contractors altered time cards to reduce hours, and later fired several workers when they complained to state investigators during a sweep.
When the state failed to respond to their complaints, the workers agreed to sue, said Julie Su, legal director for the center. Some workers saved labels from the clothing they sewed as evidence linking their work to the retailer. Su said workers' testimony indicated Forever 21 sought out contractors willing to violate minimum wage and overtime laws.