JNB Global, a garment factory in Guatemala that supplies Target Stores, has provided legally owed severance and back pay to workers whom the factory unlawfully fired in February 2021, and it has restored severance and seniority rights for the factory’s entire workforce of 400 employees, following a WRC investigation and subsequent engagement with Target for corrective action.
As reported, JNB Global violated worker rights when, in late 2020, it required all of the factory’s workers to sign new employment contracts that illegally falsified their dates of hire—depriving them of substantial accrued severance and seniority rights. It further violated their rights when, in early 2021, JNB Global unlawfully fired a number of factory employees who refused to sign the new, illegal contracts.
The WRC contacted Target regarding these violations in March 2021 after having received and investigated a complaint from the fired workers and finding that the factory had violated their rights under Guatemalan law and Target’s code of conduct for suppliers. After more than 18 months of extensive engagement with Target concerning the WRC’s findings and recommendations for corrective action, Target commissioned an external audit that confirmed the WRC’s conclusion that its supplier, JNB Global, had committed clear violations of workers’ rights that must be remedied.
On Monday, February 20, 2023, two years after they were unlawfully fired, the seven workers who had been dismissed for protesting the falsified contracts—who, in the interim, had informed the WRC that they no longer wished to return to the factory—received compensation from JNB in the form of two years’ back wages and legally required severance payments. Moreover, for all the factory’s current workforce, JNB has replaced the illegal, falsified contracts with new employment agreements that correctly state their original dates of hire and, thereby, restores their full rights to severance and other seniority-based benefits.
Although two years—from the date of the JNB workers’ unlawful dismissal until when they were ultimately compensated—was far too long to take to resolve to these violations, the WRC recognizes the important and positive role that Target ultimately played in ensuring that its supplier, JNB Global, took remedial action to restore workers’ rights under Guatemalan law and Target’s own code of conduct.
Workers at JNB had reported that the factory was also a supplier to Torrid, an apparel company owned by the US private equity firm, Sycamore Partners. The WRC contacted Sycamore Partners and asked the company to also engage with JNB Global to ensure the remediation of the violations. Torrid informed the WRC that it had undertaken a review of the alleged violations but had not, at the time of this publication, completed its investigation. Torrid affirmed to the WRC its commitment to ensuring non-exploitative work practices.
Workers who benefitted from the remediation at JNB Global shared these comments with the WRC.
“Thanks to the support of the WRC and other organizations we were able to win our case. I was not able to pay rent, my children’s school fees, money I owed the bank, and other family expenses. Now I am very happy because I will pay for these expenses and also use some of the money to fulfill my dream of opening a small business. I offer thanks from the bottom of my heart and wish blessings for everyone who supported us.” – Mirna
“When I was fired, I had a lot of economic problems. The dismissal happened during the pandemic, and it was very difficult to find new employment. The payment that I received will be of great help for me and my family. I have no words to express how happy I am. I appreciate all of the support that we received from the WRC and from Target.” – Lorenzo
“I am extremely happy about the blessing of receiving my severance payment. It was a long process, but the most important part is that there was a positive outcome. When I was fired, I owed rent, school fees for my children, payment of my electricity bill, and many other family expenses. I didn’t know how I would solve my problems, because, in Guatemala, it is very difficult to find work. The payment I received has allowed me to pay back money I had to borrow. We will be forever grateful for all of those who supported us in these efforts.” – Santos
“I was fired two years ago, and I have not been able to find a new job. My family went through a very hard time economically. We owed money for loans, rent, and food. I appreciate all of the work that the WRC did in helping to make sure our rights were respected.” – Jeimy
“For many months I was out of work and couldn’t afford to pay my rent and utility bills. From the bottom of my heart, I offer thanks to God and to everyone who supported us in order to be able to receive the money we were owed.” – Sara
“Today, as workers fired by JNB Global, we feel joy that allows us to forget for a moment what we suffered at the hands of factory management. We were humiliated by the factory when they fired us without warning and without paying our legal severance. But today we can smile and say thank you very, very much and may God bless you so that you can continue to provide this support for other workers.” – Pedro