Three Former American Apparel Employees Sue the Company Over Layoffs

They're claiming they weren't given sufficient notice.
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Eliza Brooke
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They're claiming they weren't given sufficient notice.
An American Apparel store. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

An American Apparel store. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The lawsuits continue to mount for American Apparel. On Thursday, three former employees who lost their jobs in company's most recent round of layoffs -- Carlos Hirschberg, Cesar Antonio Palma Cordero and Dominga Valencia -- filed a class action complaint against American Apparel, claiming the company didn't give them sufficient notice as was required by the Department of Labor's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act

"Not only did American Apparel not give its employees the mandatory WARN notice for mass layoffs 60 days beforehand, American Apparel's new management intentionally duped a number of these employees into signing separation agreements releasing any and all claims against the company, including but not limited to claims for severance pay and WARN-related claims, in exchange for paltry sums of money, considerably less than sums to which many of these employees were entitled," the filing reads.

According to the complaint, American Apparel "insisted that these employees sign these agreements immediately," despite the fact that many could not speak, read or write in English. 

American Apparel, of course, takes a different stance.

"These claims are absolutely without merit," a rep for the company said in a statement. "Workers' rights and respect for our employees are core principles of American Apparel. This is clear from our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which reflects our efforts to ensure that American Apparel's workplaces are free from harassment, bullying, and intimidation, and which promotes fair treatment of employees and compliance with labor and employment laws. We are dedicated to a culture of free speech and social commentary.​" 

The Department of Labor's website says that WARN requires that "most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs." Most, but not all. And according to a company memo written by CEO Paula Schneider, no law required American Apparel to provide its employees severance or notice that far in advance.

We'll be watching to see how this shakes out. Only one side gets to be right.