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Factories that made clothes for Forever 21, Ross paid workers $4 an hour, Labor Department says
Author: Natalie Kitroeff, Los Angeles Times (US), Published on: 16 November 2016
It can be hard to ignore the lure of Forever 21, where fall jackets go for $18 and a halter dress can be had for $9. But U.S. Labor Department investigators contend that those deals are costly for people like Pedro Montiel, who said he makes $4.50 an hour putting the labels and other finishing touches on blouses for one of the retailer’s suppliers. Montiel is not in a Mexican factory, or in China – he works at a company in the basement of a building in downtown Los Angeles.The department said that from April to July, it investigated 77 local garment companies that were supplying some of the biggest clothing stores in the nation... uncovering labor violations in 85% of the cases...and found that the companies cheated workers out of $1.1 million. The retailers with ties to companies that had the most offenses were Ross Dress for Less, Forever 21 and TJ Maxx. The department said it has penalized the garment companies and some manufacturers that act as intermediaries between the factories and the retailers. Those companies were ordered to pay $1.3 million in lost wages and damages to workers. But the retailers will avoid any repercussions for hiring factories that violate labor laws. The Labor Department can only penalize companies that directly employ workers. Retailers keep their distance from the factory floors by working with several layers of suppliers, lawyers for the government and worker advocates said.