WWD.com/business-news/designer-luxury/alexander-wang-denies-sweatshop-allegations-5944780/
government-trade
government-trade

Alexander Wang Denies ‘Sweatshop’ Allegations

The company filed its response to a lawsuit in March alleging New York State labor law violations.

Alexander Wang Inc. on Monday filed an answer that generally denied the allegations in a March lawsuit filed by a former employee that it had violated New York State labor laws.

The lawsuit was filed by Wenyu Lu, who used to work for Wang, in a state court in Queens, but was later transferred to a Manhattan federal court and includes the legal action by Flo Durante, another former Wang employee. The action seeks class-action status.

Both lawsuits complained of poor working conditions and long hours. Among the claims by Lu were that employees were forced to work 16-hour days without overtime in an unventilated, windowless room at the designer’s factory at 386 Broadway.

In Wang’s answer, the company — which acknowledged that it has gross annual revenues in excess of $500,000 — said it and other named defendants, including the designer, “have complied with all applicable wage and hour and leave laws, and there is no basis whatsoever for plaintiffs’ frivolous and entirely unsupportable accusations that defendants have harassed them or discriminated against them on the basis of their race, or on any other protected basis.”

RELATED STORY: Wang Refutes Sweatshop Allegations >>

The court document also said that the true goal of the plaintiffs — which it described as “two disgruntled former employees with axes to grind” — is to “exact a substantial settlement from the defendants, and that the two have mischaracterized their former workplace as a hovel, while attempting to portray defendants as ‘sweatshop owners.’” Wang described its workspace as a “modern, brightly lit studio with high ceilings and large windows.”

The answer said that Lu was hired as a sewer around September 2008, was paid an hourly rate of $25, and that he and others in the studio were “properly paid all wages owed.” The other named plaintiff, whom Wang said has the surname Duarte instead of Durante, also worked as a sewer, at an hourly rate of $22 an hour, and that she also was properly paid all wages owed.

Wang also said that the plaintiffs, along with all studio employees, were “provided with regular and multiple breaks during their work time.” In addition, the company said in the court document that the two, along with all studio employees, were “eligible for and provided with paid vacation, paid sick days, paid holidays, paid personal days, medical and dental insurance and other benefits.”

As for defenses, Wang said that some of the relief sought is either barred for a legal reason such as waiver or statute of limitations, or barred because the plaintiffs failed to “exhaust their administrative remedies.”