Editor’s note: This is one of those rare instances where The Fifth Column is passing along information without disclosing its source. This information was obtained by a TFC journalist. The information is presented as obtained. Given the state of the media in the Philippines, we cannot count on it being reported through normal channels. The history of Forever 21 is well-documented and lends credibility to the claims. We will continue to provide more details as they become available. The allegations are allegations until proven.
Forever21 has a long history of labour lawsuits (aside from gender and discrimination, copyright violations) filed against them by their own employees. In early June this year, six employees (from an initial dozen holding meetings) from its outsourced call center in the Philippines have finally decided to take the necessary steps to hold the company accountable for its unfair labour practices.
History speaks for itself—these are the same old practices that Forever21 has already been sued for: exploitative scheduling practices where employees are made to work overtime (unannounced or announced two minutes before the end of their shifts), where anyone who refuses are threatened to be fined for insubordination; delaying lunches and breaks due to staff shortages and eventually shortening the allotted lunch time from an hour to 45 minutes; delayed salary; unfiled paperwork for employee dependents’ medical benefits; threats and harassment towards employees who speak up (sometimes resulting in termination). This is only naming a few of the bullshit practices Forever21 has been doing to its Pinoy/Pinay employees.
Under Philippine Labour Law, a SENA (Single Entry Approach) is necessary before proceeding to file a lawsuit against a company. A SENA gives an employer the chance to talk things out with the complainants before proceeding in a lawsuit. This has been done by these six people on the 8th and 22nd of July this year where obviously nothing has been resolved, all the while past harassment and threats from the company worsen. After these dates one employee was terminated, and two have been issued written warnings for failing statistics and attendance. Prior to this, two people were terminated without due process and their pay is still being withheld.
A formal court hearing has been scheduled between the employees and Forever21 for this coming August 11th and 18th. Let us all watch what kind of excuses Forever21 and its kiss-ass representatives will come up with to justify the sweatshop-like, modern slavery they are subjecting their Pinoy/Pinay employees to. Show solidarity with these workers by boycotting Forever21 locally and online (forever21.com) and/or contacting their corporate headquarters at 213-741-5100. You can send cash to the plaintiffs (to cover court hearing cost or basic necessities for those whose pay were withheld) and/or send words of solidarity by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.