SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Norton & Melnik, APC, and Kitchin Legal announced they filed a class action lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court today against the California-based retailer, Forever 21. The lawsuit alleges Forever 21 required its employees to perform work without compensation and denied them meal breaks.
The lead plaintiffs, Jazzreeal Jones, Jessica Ramos, Shanelle Thompson, Alyssa Elias and Tiffinee Linthicum, say the company routinely detained them and their co-workers inside Forever 21 stores on lunch breaks and after their shifts were over so managers could search them for company merchandise. The suit alleges these delays resulted in substantial unpaid labor every day for thousands of Forever 21 employees in California. The workers’ lawyers are also asking the State of California to appoint them as private attorneys general so they may prosecute penalty claims on behalf of the State.
The lawsuit is similar to one brought against Polo Ralph Lauren that led to a $4 million settlement in 2010. Patrick Kitchin, who served as co-lead counsel in the Polo case, explained, “Bag checks are meant to protect retailers from employee theft. Ironically, the delays associated with this industry-wide practice often result in the theft of employees’ wages.”
“Sales associates at Forever 21 stores are often still in high school and under the age of 18 when they begin their employment,” said Geoffrey Norton, one of the workers’ lead attorneys. “These young people are vulnerable and often do not understand their employment rights. This lawsuit is meant to give these young people a voice about how they were treated while employed by Forever 21 in California.”
This is not the first time Forever 21 has come under criticism for its employment practices. In 2001 workers from six factories sued the company and called for a boycott of Forever 21 products for what they called “unsafe and unsanitary working conditions.” That lawsuit was dropped after Forever 21 agreed to change its labor practices in its factories and pay the workers the wages they had earned.
Forever 21 was formed in 1984 by South Korean immigrants, Do Won and Jin Sook Chan. Begun as a single store in Los Angeles called Fashion 21, it now operates nearly 500 stores in eight countries. One hundred of those stores are in California. Forever 21 employees more than 33,000 people worldwide and projects revenues of over $3 billion for 2011.
Forever 21 employees are encouraged to contact attorney Geoffrey P. Norton at 818-999-9500 or attorney Patrick R. Kitchin at 415-677-9058.
For additional information, including a copy of Plaintiffs’ complaint, please visit www.Forever21ClassAction.com