Forever 21’s Alleged Fair Labor Standards Violation Act: High Profile New York City Restaurants Aren’t the Only Ones Flouting the FLSA!

The team here at Joseph & Kirschenbaum has prosecuted many landmark wage and hour cases against restaurants in New York City for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

If you’ve studied our blog or learned about our work, you will quickly (hopefully) conclude that the restaurant industry here in the Big Apple has a big problem. Given the copious overtime, record keeping, minimum wage and tip pool violations that we’ve seen, one wonders whether some of these businesses are even aware of laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Apparently, the restaurant industry in New York is not alone in flouting the FLSA.

Consider the following breaking news out of Los Angeles: the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division is investigating fashion chain Forever 21 for substantial and diverse FLSA violations. The company allegedly:

  • Failed to keep contractor records;
  • Failed to pay overtime and meet minimum wage thresholds;
  • Violated the FLSA in technical ways with respect to how the company supplied and interacted with vendors and manufacturers.

The federal agency has been investigating Forever 21 vendors for over four years. A few months ago, the agency subpoenaed the company for information regarding employee hours, manufacturer/wage documentation, and general work practices. A California administrator for the DOL, Ruben Rosalez, had these harsh words to say about the matter: “When companies like Forever 21 refuse to comply with subpoenas, they demonstrate a clear disregard for the law. The Labor Department will use all enforceable tools available to recover workers’ wages and hold employers accountable.”

Without scrutinizing the relevant documents and data about this case, we cannot jump to conclusions about it. However, it’s helpful to see these allegations in a broader context that also considers the work that our firm and others have done.

The DOL has launched over 1,500 investigations in Southern California over the past five-years regarding FLSA violations in the fashion industry. So far, these investigations have found that 11,000 + fashion employees are owed more than $11 million in unpaid wages. An unbelievable 93% of the investigations found violations of the FLSA.

Sound familiar?

Critics sometimes contend that New York wage and hour law firms like ours “go overboard” in terms of litigating wage and hour claims. But this rash of alleged FLSA violations in yet another industry indicates just the opposite — it suggests that our firm is helping to watchdog a business culture that has, in some ways, gotten out of control.

You and your co-workers may be confused about what rights you have under the FLSA, or even whether you have a case or not. Get in touch with the trusted, tested team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP for a free, thorough, and fair consultation.

Call us at (212) 688-5640 or find out more about us at

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