Alexander Wang denied allegations that its factory in New York’s Chinatown was a “sweatshop,” and the company vowed to defend itself against a $450 million lawsuit brought by an ex-employee. Filed last month in Queens County Supreme Court, the lawsuit claims Wang violated New York State labor laws, including provisions covering overtime compensation and minimum wage.
A spokeswoman for the fashion brand, which has yet to be served with the legal papers, told WWD on Tuesday, “The company takes its obligations to comply with the law very seriously, including the relevant wage and hour regulations, the payment of overtime to eligible employees and having a safe working environment for all of our employees. We will vehemently defend any allegations to the contrary.”
Forcing employees to work 16-hour days without overtime in an unventilated, windowless 200-square-foot room with more than 15 other workers were among the charges hurled at Wang by ex-employee Wenyu Lu. His attorney said roughly 30 of his former co-workers were added to the case.
The plaintiffs are demanding $50 million for each of the suit’s nine charges, including labor law violations, breach of agreement and unjust enrichment.
Lu, who claimed to work 84 hours a week at the designer’s factory at 386 Broadway, said he suffered work-related illnesses, including an eye injury and kidney stones, which resulted in an emergency operation two years ago.
In one instance, the 56-year-old Lu alleged he passed out at his station after working 25 hours without a break. Ultimately, Lu, who started at the factory in 2008, was fired on Feb. 16 after complaining about the poor conditions and applying for worker’s compensation for injuries sustained on the job, his lawyer, Ming Hai, alleged.
“Bad labor conditions are everywhere in the Asian garment community. It’s horrible,” said Hai, noting that there are more than 20 garment factories in Chinatown.
“A lot of the workers are new immigrants and they don’t speak English,” he said. “They work long hours. It’s like a new kind of slavery.”
According to Hai, who regularly tries such employment law cases, most factory owners tend to settle the disputes for fear of bad press.
A new Joan Rivers coffee table book, titled “Joan Rivers Confidential,” gives readers never-before-seen photos and letters of the late comedian throughout her life. “Because of her drive to always be fresh, she kept records of every appearance, every performance, all the jokes that were used on TV, all the clothes that were worn,” said Rivers’ daughter Melissa. Here, Rivers poses at the “Tonight Show” in Tracy Mills in 1985. Read more about the book and see more photos at WWD.com. #wwdeye
After a career at New York hot spots like Narcissa, Dovetail and Nix, @chefjfraser has expanded to the West Village with The Loyal, a modernized take on an American brasserie. “And as I’ve gone through my career I’ve felt some departure from that kind of simple, straightforward [cooking]. This is meant to take on the idea of ‘what if the American brasserie was invented today?’” #wwdeye (📷: @chinseephoto)
@bellahadid and @lilyaldridge at @bulgariofficial’s celebration on Friday night, toasting the brand's new Peter Marino-designed flagship on Fifth Avenue. The two-part event included a cocktail party at the store followed by a dinner at a mystery location — the Met Cloisters. #wwdeye
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews