It is no secret that employers often violate labor laws; add to this list (allegedly) top fashion designer Alexander Wang. Famous casual sportswear fashion designer Alexander Wang is being sued for allegedly providing unsafe working conditions for his employees at his New York Office.
A $50 million dollar civil action suit has been filed in the Queens Supreme Court. Employees such as FlorDuante are claiming that Wang provided unsafe working conditions, overworked his employees with approximately 90 hour/week shifts, and wrongfully terminated them after the employees had filed a workers compensation complaint against him.
Wang’s corporation claims that they adhere to labor laws, especially laws related to wages, overtime, and safe environment. Briefly, employment law wants to ensure that employees have safe working conditions, work reasonable hours and do no face discrimination or wrongful termination. Safe working conditions emphasize employers to provide working environments where chances of work-related injuries are minimal and all the necessary injury-preventative measures are provided to employees. For instance, making sure that the floors stay clean so that no one can slip, or offering masks or gloves if employees are required to operate heavy and/or dangerous machinery.
Employers are also required to ensure that employees are being paid for all hours worked, and that the hours be reasonable with the employees taking at least two fifteen minute breaks in which they have physically stepped away from their desk. Additionally, employers must make sure that there is no harassment or discrimination going on in the work place. Taking preventative measure such as anti-discrimination or anti-harassment workshops, or having company policies explicitly stating a “no tolerance for discrimination or harassment” policy is a very good idea. Alongside these conditions, employers must also remember that although most places employ at-will, this does not mean that employees can be fired based on acts such as complaining about labor law violations.
In lawsuits such as Wang’s, it is very rare that employers walk away having to pay nothing. Mostly, employers want to settle such suits to avoid investing time and money in litigation. Therefore it is likely that Alexander Want will have to pay damages to these employees, and it is likely that the damages amount will be well-negotiated by the attorneys representing both parties.
There are probably ways to avoid such instances. Many companies are now placing video cameras and time card machines that record employees’ daily routine, movements, and timings. Of course, such measures are implemented legally by giving employees notice before implementing such procedures. Such efforts can help employers either defend themselves against lawsuits or force them to abide by labor laws. Many corporations do in fact implement such measures for these reasons.
However, in the past and even the present, the fashion industry has had a lot of problems due to accusations of labor law violations. Either companies in the fashion industry should implement such measures as well, or industry heads should look to lawsuits like Wang’s and realize that if they do not conduct their operations legally, adverse consequences will follow.