Three former employees of American Apparel have filed a class action lawsuit against the company, WWD reports. The lawsuit alleges that in cutting 200-odd jobs last month, American Apparel was acting in violation of federal and state labor laws.
According to WWD:
The lawsuit accuses the company of violating the state and federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act and seeks lost wages resulting from the alleged insufficient warning given to laid off workers. That amounts to roughly $1 million, according to Keith Fink, an attorney at the firm Fink & Steinberg, which is representing the plaintiffs.
The complaint accuses the company of disclosing the layoffs to the media a few days before informing affected workers. The plaintiffs also allege many of the workers were “duped” into signing agreements that would relieve the company of any legal obligations under the WARN Act or later claims for severance, according to the complaint. Severance pay to employees who signed the agreement in some instances totaled $300, the complaint said.
In a recent interview with the publication, CEO Paula Schneider claimed that the cuts were made as a part of the financially-strained company’s turnaround strategy, and that layoffs of a similar scope occurred in both 2014 and 2013.
This news immediately follows a WWD report Thursday detailing four complaints filed Wednesday with the National Labor Relations Board citing various violations of the National Labor Relations Act. According to the article, “the common theme among the complaints allege American Apparel in some way interfered with workers’ rights to talk with union organizers”—an allegation a company spokesperson told WWD was “without merit.”
About 60% of production workers (approximately 2,800 people) have signed cards so far signaling their support for a union represented by the General Brotherhood of Workers and Hermandad Mexicana. It remains to be seen how this will go over with the company’s increasingly corporate leadership, whose sympathies thus far have veered drastically away from its vulnerable immigrant workforce.
Image via Associated Press