Resolution of Complaint at Impression Apparel (El Salvador)

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova, Jessica Champagne, and Tara Mathur
Date:December 13, 2016
Re:Resolution of Complaint at Impression Apparel (El Salvador)

Please find here a new memo from the WRC on an investigation and remediation involving Impression Apparel, an apparel factory located in El Salvador. Tailgate Clothing Company, which is owned by American Eagle, disclosed Impression Apparel as a source of licensed apparel; the factory also supplies non-collegiate apparel to Gap and other firms.   

In response to a complaint, the WRC investigated the termination of a worker serving as a union leader at Impression Apparel. Her termination without prior consent from the Salvadoran government would be illegal on its face: Salvadoran law prohibits the unilateral termination of union leaders. The worker provided credible testimony that she had been terminated; factory management, however, insisted that she had resigned voluntarily. 

In the course of the investigation, the WRC contacted Tailgate, the licensee producing at the factory. Tailgate informed the WRC that it had, in the fall of 2015, discontinued its business relationship with Impression Apparel as a result of the factory’s failure to comply with an unrelated labor rights investigation.  

The WRC then contacted another of the factory’s primary buyers, Gap. While the investigation continued, Gap, the WRC, and Impression Apparel communicated regarding the case. As a result of these communications, the company agreed to return the worker to her former position and pay her for the time that she was off the job. The WRC has confirmed that the worker is now back at work and has received this back pay.

As you know, the firing of workers because they exercise their associational rights is a chronic problem in the global garment industry. Securing the reinstatement of a leader at a collegiate factory is always heartening and significant: it corrects the injustice done to that worker, but also protects the associational rights of allworkers in the factory, who would otherwise have good reason to fear that exercising their rights will result in permanent expulsion from the workplace.

As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding this case. Please note that this case, though it also involves Tailgate, is not related to the ongoing case at Rio Garment, concerning unpaid compensation.

Scott Nova 
Executive Director
[email protected]