WRC Finds No Violations at JoeAnne Dominicana (Dominican Republic)

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova and Tara Mathur
Date:December 22, 2015

Please find here a new WRC report regarding an investigation conducted by the WRC at JoeAnne Dominicana, an apparel manufacturing facility in the Dominican Republic that is disclosed as a supplier of university licensed apparel to Franklin Sports and Russell Brands. The WRC investigated a complaint filed by a Dominican labor federation alleging that three union leaders had been fired from their jobs in retaliation for participating in the establishment of a factory union. The WRC’s investigation of the terminations did not find sufficient evidence to substantiate the union’s contention that the terminations violated Dominican law.

Specifically, the WRC did not find a basis to conclude that the employees had been terminated in retaliation for their union activities. Rather, evidence showed that workers had engaged in conduct that provided legal justification for their dismissal. Thus, the WRC’s finding is that there were no violations of law or university codes of conduct in this case.

This complaint came following an earlier investigation at this facility, in 2013, in which the WRC determined that the company had fired seven workers in retaliation for their efforts to form a union at the factory. The company responded to the WRC’s recommendations at that time by reinstating six of the seven workers who wished to return to the job.

The union’s more recent complaint concerned the termination of three workers who were members of the founding committee of a plant-level union. Under Dominican law, workers holding such positions can only be dismissed for just cause and only after the factory receives authorization from the Dominican Labor Court.

JoeAnne Dominicana presented to the Court a request for permission to dismiss the three workers on the grounds that one of the three threatened a pregnant coworker with violence and that the other two shut-off sewing machines and refused to work for an extended period of time during a workday. The Court granted authorization for dismissal and JoeAnne Dominicana terminated the three workers on February 26, 2015.
In response to the union’s complaint to the WRC, which alleged that JoeAnne Dominicana made false accusations before the court and that factory management coerced other employees to provide false testimony, the WRC contacted JoeAnne Dominicana and requested information regarding the dismissals. JoeAnne Dominicana provided the WRC with substantial evidence related to the case, including testimony submitted by the company to the court from witnesses to the incidents and other detailed information about misconduct by the three fired employees. The WRC also conducted an onsite investigation of the incident in June 2015, as well as off-site interviews with the fired workers and with witnesses to the incidents leading to their dismissals.

The WRC’s investigation found evidence showing that workers had committed actions that constituted just grounds for dismissal. The WRC did not find evidence to show that anti-union animus on the part of management was a motivating factor in the decision to dismiss the workers. Thus, no violations of law or university codes occurred.

Scott Nova 
Worker Rights Consortium 
5 Thomas Circle NW, 5th Floor 
Washington DC 20005 
ph:  202 387 4884
fax: 202 387 3292
[email protected]