Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation
• Ralph Lauren is haute couture in the fashion world, but its sourcing and labor practices leave much to be desired.
• Ralph Lauren has been accused of sourcing from sweatshops and pulling its business from factories where workers organized to demand higher wages.
• In addition, the company received extremely low marks for its lack of transparency of its supply chain from the Ethical Trading Action Group, was part of a lawsuit for using sweatshops in the US territory of Saipan, and was sued for denying black employees the same pay and opportunities of white employees.
• You can find high quality, fashionable clothing that didn’t come from sweatshops. Learn how to be stylish and green at Go Green.
-- Profile Updated 07/01/2010
About Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation
Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation designs and markets men's and women's clothing, accessories, and home furnishings. The New York-based company operates more than 290 retail and outlet stores in the U.S. as well as more than 100 stores worldwide. Polo Ralph Lauren employs 12,800 people and reported sales of $4.3 billion in fiscal 2007.
Clean Clothes Campaign
The Clean Clothes Campaign is an international campaign that aims to improve working conditions and to empower workers in the global garment industry, in order to end the oppression, exploitation and abuse of workers in this industry, most of whom are women.
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Contact Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation
Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation
New York, NY 10022 USA
The Ethical Trading Action Group (ETAG), in association with Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) and AccountAbility, released a report called "Transparency Report Card 2006," evaluating and comparing 31 apparel retailers and brands in their efforts to address worker rights in their global supply chain. Retailers were rated in areas such as compliance with International Labor Organization standards (ILO), methods of monitoring code compliance, steps taken to communicate thoroughly, effectively, and transparently to the public. Polo Ralph Lauren earned a score of 5 out of 100. In 2005, Polo received a score of 0.
-- Maquila Solidarity Network, 01/29/2007
Four former Polo Ralph Lauren employees filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court against the corporation, alleging repeated employee rights violations by the company. The plaintiffs claimed Polo paid them less than the promised base pay rate, denied them break periods, manipulated the time records of hours worked, and required them to perform work for which they were not paid. There are also allegations stating Polo store managers falsely imprisoned workers in locked stores to check for stolen goods. The plaintiffs are seeking unpaid wages, penalties, and punitive damages.
-- Los Angeles Times, 05/31/2006
Source URL: none available
In September 2002, a California employee of Polo Ralph Lauren filed a class-action lawsuit against the company claiming that it requires workers to buy and wear its pricey clothing on the job in violation of state labor laws. The employee alleges that she spent $35,000 on the company's clothes during her five years as a sales associate in an San Francisco store. California law says that if employers require workers to wear clothing of "distinctive design," the apparel is considered a "uniform," which must be provided and maintained by the employer, according to an attorney for the woman. The suit says Polo Ralph Lauren requires workers to wear current clothing and accessories and are urged to buy five outfits a season at a 65 percent discount.
In 2006, Ralph Lauren settled the lawsuit by agreeing to pay $1.5 million in cash and giftcards to store employees.
-- San Francisco Chronicle, 01/13/2006
Polo garment supplier PT Sarasa in Indonesia closed down the factory in February 2004 when workers demanded they receive the annual wage increases specified in their collective bargaining agreement. Plant management hired paramilitaries and vigilantes to block workers from entering the factory and attempted to move productions to another location in hopes of getting workers to accept low severance pay and to back down on their original demands. In October 2004 PT Sarasa reached an settlement involving reopening the factory and reinstating approximately 800 workers.
-- Clean Clothes Campaign, 12/01/2004
Source URL: www.cleanclothes.org/urgent/05-08-05.htm
In 2004, Polo was cited as an official licensee of a factory in Hong Kong where labor abuses have been reported. Violations of international labor standards included the following:
- Workers receivee less than standard minimum wage set by Chinese Government
- Laborers were requested to sign short-term (1 year) contracts, of which they were not given a copy. (This is one method of relieving employers of the pensions and health care responsibilities that accompany longer term employment.)
- Workers experienced pay delays, sometimes of as many as 4 months.
"Conditions of Women in Special Economic Zones and Labour Standards in Supplier Factories of German Garment Retailer Companies and Brands in China"
-- Clean Clothes Campaign, 09/16/2004
In April 2003, a federal court on the Pacific island of Saipan approved a $20 million settlement on a class action lawsuit filed against Polo Ralph Lauren and 25 other US retailers. The lawsuit charged that the companies contracted sweatshop labor on Saipan, a U.S. Commonwealth and should be held accountable for worker treatment and conditions in foreign-owned factories operating on U.S. soil. According to the complaint, the more than 13,000 garment workers in Saipan regularly worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, oftentimes "off the clock" without receiving any pay or overtime. The lawsuit also accused the companies of operating a "racketeering conspiracy" through which workers, who are mostly young women, sign contracts waiving their basic human rights and pay recruitment fees of up to $10,000 to secure sweatshop jobs. By agreeing to the settlement, the companies admitted no wrongdoing.
-- Clean Clothes Campaign, 01/09/2004
Source URL: www.cleanclothes.org/legal/04-01-08.htm
Ethics and Governance
In 2002, two former employees of Polo Ralph Lauren filed a lawsuit against the company claiming they were denied the same pay and opportunities as white employees. The allegations include the failure to promote minorities, despite increasing their responsibilities, and offering higher starting salaries for white employees. The suit was settled privately.
-- Just-style.com, 02/26/2002
Source URL: just-style.com/news_detail.asp?art=23716&dm=yes