Skip to main content
ad info  law center > news
trials and cases
open forum
law library
Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  




Prosecutor says witnesses saw rap star shoot gun in club

Embassy bombing defendants' confessions admissible, says U.S. Judge

Excerpt: John Grisham's 'A Painted House'



Bush signs order opening 'faith-based' charity office for business

Rescues continue 4 days after devastating India earthquake

DaimlerChrysler employees join rapidly swelling ranks of laid-off U.S. workers

Disney's is a goner


4:30pm ET, 4/16








CNN Websites
Networks image

find law dictionary

Garment workers file suit against Donna Karan


June 7, 2000
Web posted at: 11:21 p.m. EDT (0321 GMT)

In this story:

'They know what's happening'

Class-action could involve 300 workers


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Fashion designer Donna Karan is the target of a class-action lawsuit which claims that workers who make her clothing line endure sweatshop conditions.

The suit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund on behalf of five New York garment workers.


Latest Legal News

Law Library

FindLaw Consumer Center

The suit, which names Donna Karan International along with a midtown Manhattan factory and its owner, claims workers put in 70- to 80-hour weeks, yet were rarely paid overtime and sometimes did not earn minimum wage.

In a written statement, the company denied the claims and said it would fight them:

"We believe that the claims against the company are without merit and plan to defend against them vigorously. We do not believe we should be held responsible for another company's business practices over which we have no control, particularly where we understand the workers are represented by a union."

All the plaintiffs in the suit worked for a subcontractor while assembling Donna Karan garments.

'They know what's happening'

Standing outside the Madison Avenue DKNY store Wednesday along with chanting protesters, the lawyer who filed the suit, Ken Kimerling, called the action a "broad-based attack on sweatshops here in New York. Donna Karan has worked and worked her workers in this city and not fully paid for the work that they've done."

Kimerling rejected the idea that the company does not know what is going on inside the factories that make its clothes: "Donna Karan has her people in those factories every day, making sure that her garments are up to quality. ... They know what's happening."

Protesters supporting the workers demonstrated outside the Madison Avenue DKNY store in New York  

The company said in an earlier statement that it is "concerned about the working conditions of its employees and those who work for independent contractors that make its products. We expect our contract manufacturers worldwide to comply with all applicable labor laws and regulations and proper ethical standards. We have taken a number of steps, including establishing a factory compliance program, to promote adherence to these standards."

Joining the plaintiffs and lawyers at the press conference were representatives of human rights organizations, along with individuals who claim they have suffered from poor working conditions at other factories that make Donna Karan clothes.

Kwan Lai, 42, claimed she was illegally fired when her factory shut down after she came forward and complained about violations there.

"They retaliated against me after I complained about the illegal conditions at the factory," Lai said. "We demand that Donna Karan resolve these issues."

Her case and another labor suit against Donna Karan, both involving another midtown Manhattan factory, are currently in court.

Class-action could involve 300 workers

Kimerling alleged that when manufacturers have been sued for labor violations in the past, the company has simply moved its work to another factory.

"But in reality, the clothing continues to be made in sweatshops that do not pay minimum wage and overtime," he said.

While only five people, all legal Chinese immigrants, are listed as plaintiffs, the class-action suit seeks to represent as many as 300 people who work in factories that make Donna Karan clothing.

Donna Karan melds traditional, high-tech looks for DKNY
June 1, 2000
Four chains bought from sweatshops that exploit workers
December 14, 1997
Labor Department taking aim at sweatshops
October 16, 1997

Donna Karan
Asian-American Legal Defense Fund

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.