Labor Rights Group Aims to Hold Apparel Brands Jointly Liable for Alleged Supply Chain Abuses

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An article by Professor Jennifer Gordon was mentioned in The Fashion Law regarding the conflict between labor rights activists and global apparel brands.  

Can big-name brands continue to skirt liability for integral players in their supply chains? That is the critical question at the heart of a handful of newly-initiated legal challenges that are being waged against the likes of H&M, Levi Strauss, Columbia Sporting Company, Asics, DKNY and Tommy Hilfiger, among others, in India and Sri Lanka. By way of a number of newly-filed complaints, labor rights group Asia Floor Wage Alliance (“AFWA”) is looking to hold global apparel brands jointly liable for alleged wage violations that followed from widespread COVID-induced order cancellations by Western brands, thereby, leaving laborers who were not terminated from their positions entirely with fewer hours and significant “gaps” in their pay. 

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“By moving production abroad and contracting with suppliers, a firm can avoid liability for abuses it would have been responsible for if it directly had employed the worker within the United States,” Fordham Law professor Jennifer Gordon wrote in her article, Regulating the Human Supply Chain. “In a context of global inequality,” she says, “the combination of private contracting arrangements and public laws allow firms to benefit from the decision to outsource a firm function, without bearing the true cost.”

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