Retail Giant Caught in Another Labor Scandal, Lawsuit

H&M is one of the largest clothing retailers in the world and is now being sued by huge class that matches the retailer’s enormous size. Suzanne Tran, a former H&M employee,  filed a complaint in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on February 2 claiming that the clothing giant forced some employees to work overtime without compensation, and to work through meal and rest breaks.

This is not the first time H&M has been accused of violating labor laws. In 2006, a scandal broke that the company’s Cambodian workers were forced to produce clothes in deplorable conditions. In 2009, various anti-slavery groups called on H&M to stop using cotton that was picked by forced child labor.

Under California labor laws, non-exempt workers like Tran are guaranteed rest breaks if they work more than three and a half hours in a day. Ten minute rest breaks are also guaranteed for each four hour work period completed. Additionally, each break must be paid. California mandates that when an employee works more than eight hours per day, or more than forty hours per week, they are entitled to overtime pay.

Tran, and the class she represents, claims that H&M required workers to “work substantial amounts of time ‘off-the-clock’ and without pay” according to the lawsuit complaint. The complaint also alleges that H&M violated labor laws in a “willful and widespread” manner. H&M has requested the court to remove the case to federal court since the potential damages may be well over $5 million. The court has not yet made a ruling about whether it will allow the case to be removed.

The complaint and more case information can be found here.