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American Apparel Reluctantly Fires 1,800

(Filed Under Fashion News). American Apparel will reportedly fire approximately 1,800 undocumented workers at its Los Angeles-based garment factory after an Obama administration investigation found unresolved irregularities in the workers' identity documents. According to a NY Times article dated September 29th, the workers make up about a quarter of the vertically integrated retailer’s workforce.

As previously reported in BODY, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) first began its investigation of the immigration status of American Apparel’s employees under the Bush Administration in 2008. In January of that year, the ICE conducted an inspection to determine American Apparel’s compliance with Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In early August 2009, the company learned that, upon review of Social Security and immigration records, the ICE had been unable to verify the employment eligibility of approximately 200 of its employees; and that based upon its review of government databases, approximately 1,600 additional employees did not appear to be authorized for work in the U.S.

CEO of American Apparel Dov Charney has been working over the past several months to reassure investors that the firings will not adversely affect the company’s financial position. An outspoken advocate of legalizing undocumented workers through the “Legalize LA” campaign, Charney—who prides his company on the treatment of its workers—has also expressed dismay over the crack-down. In a September 1st farewell letter to the employees affected by the upcoming firings—which is available on the American Apparel website—he wrote: “As many of you know, we have been marching for immigration reform since 2001.

“I am deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has failed to bring about immigration reform. Whereas I know he has the intention to do so, getting it done is another story […] Right now I will work hard to put pressure on political forces to help facilitate the legalization of workers here in this country, and as a second priority help bring about immigration reform on a go-forward basis.”

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Published 10-01-2009 by Amanda Torres Price

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