Recently we told you that the Department of Labor's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against fast fashion retailer, Forever 21. Surprisingly, it is a big surprise to many people that Forever 21 makes their clothing in sweatshops. Regardless, more details have come to light following the release of a statement from the U.S. Dept. of Labor on Friday. According to Priscilla Garcia, director of the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, the government agency has "proof that the goods going to Forever 21 from certain garment contractor shops are being sewn by people who aren't being paid properly." Such information stems from the investigation that the Department launched earlier this year.
Forever 21 has faced quite a few legal problems in the not too distant past, and its go-to solutions are: (1) settling their legal issues out of court to avoid negative publicity (aka paying off the individual or entity bringing the lawsuit to drop it) and/or (2) blaming the allegations it faces on its suppliers. In August 2011, when Forever 21 was facing a copyright infringement suit, its president, Do Won "Don" Chang, explained that the company's policy "is to trust our suppliers not to break the law," rather than responsibly monitoring the manufacturing of the they sell. I'm guessing they will make the same argument again, but it likely won't be that easy this time around as Forever 21 is already off to a bad start by ignoring the government's subpoena (which is essentially a legally-binding order from the court to produce evidence). Based on the DOL's statement alone, which states that the government agency intends to "use all enforcement tools available to recover workers' wages and hold employers accountable," the DOL isn't playing games.