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Lidl lawsuit (re working conditions in Bangladesh)

In 2010, several NGOs filed a lawsuit in Heilbronn district court against the German disocunt retailer Lidl. The complaint followed a Lidl advertising campaign which claimed the company advocated for fair working conditions in its supply chain. The NGOs allege the advertisement is misleading as the working conditions in Lidl's Bangladeshi textile plant did not comply relevant labour standards. Lidl agreed to withdraw the public claims and advertisements. 


Für die deutsche Beschreibung des Falles, klicken Sie hier.

On 6 April 2010, the Hamburg Consumer Protection Agency, supported by the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), filed a lawsuit in Heilbronn district court against the German discount retailer Lidl.  The complaint followed a Lidl advertising campaign which claimed that the company advocated for fair working conditions and contracted its non-food orders only from selected suppliers.  In this campaign, Lidl also claimed that it opposed child labour as well as human and labour rights violations in its supply chain.

Relying on research compiled by ECCHR and CCC, the Consumer Protection Agency alleged that the working conditions in Bangladeshi textile plants in Lidl’s supply chain did not comply with labour standards as set out by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and theBusiness Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) code of conduct.  Furthermore, it alleged that the companies in Lidl’s supply chain violated labour laws, including the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining and freedom from sex discrimination.  The Agency claimed that the Bangladeshi employees worked excessive overtime (more than 12 hours per week) with no overtime premium, were not entitled to a holiday after 6 consecutive working days and were subjected to harassment and to payroll deductions as a punitive measure.  Accordingly, the suit demanded that Lidl stop deceiving customers about fair working conditions in its supply-chain.

On 14 April 2010, Lidl agreed to withdraw the public claims and advertisements that its goods were being produced under fair and decent working conditions.  A consent decree was filed with the court to memorialise this agreement.  Additionally, Lidl is no longer permitted to refer to its membership in the BSCI in its advertising materials.

LIDL: Forced to Retract ‘Ethical’ claims, Labour Behind the Label, 14 Sep 2010
- [German] Lidl dreht bei (“Lidl turn about”), Hamburg Consumer Protection Agency, 10 Sep 2010
- [German] Menschenrechtler verklagen Lidl (“Human rights activists sue Lidl”), stern.de, 8 Apr 2010
- [German] Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg klagt gegen Lidl (“The Hamburg Consumer Protection Agency brings Lidl to court”), TextilWirtschaft, 8 Apr 2010

- Clean Clothes Campaign: Press Release - German Retailer Lidl Retracts False Claims of Fair Working Conditions, 30 Apr 2010
- Clean Clothes Campaign: [German] Die Schönfärberei der Discounter, Klage gegen Lidl’s irreführende Werbung(“Glossing over by the discount shop, claim against Lidl’s misleading advertising”), Gisela Burckhardt, Apr 2010
- European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights:Successful complaint against consumer deception - LIDL retracts advertisements
- European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights: [PDF] Swift legal victory in the complaint against Lidl

- [German] Unlautere Werbung: Lidl muss Werbung für "fair produzierte" Kleidung zurückziehen - Kleidung nicht unter fairen Arbeitsbedingungen hergestellt (“Lidl must withdraw advertisement for clothes “produced fairly” – Clothes were not manufactured under fair working conditions”), Hamburg Consumer Protection Agency – 21 O 42/10 – kostenlose-urteile.de, 21 Apr 2010
- [PDF] [German] Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg v. Lidl Dienstleistung GmbH & Co KG [complaint filed in the Heilbronn district court, Germany], 6 Apr 2010