Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
The Kardashian sisters have often been accused of dumbing down culture, but now they're being accused of something far more serious: employing slave labor to manufacture their clothing and accessories line. A new report from the not-for-profit human rights organization China Labor Watch details human rights abuses at two Chinese factories, whose products include clothing, handbags and jewelry for the "K-Dash by Kardashian" brand.
The undercover investigation detailed in the report reveals that workers at the China factories are severely underpaid, overworked and exposed to dangerous conditions. (The investigators took video of the cramped, dirty working conditions.) Furthermore, quitting is difficult for workers, and those who resign are often forced to pay a fine.
After seeing the report, six of the major clothing manufacturers who use the factory -- including GAP, American Eagle, J. Crew and Target -- jointly conducted their own investigation into working conditions. They confirmed the China Labor Watch's findings, and have now pledged to create a safe and fair working environment in their Chinese factories.
The Kardashians, however, are reportedly contesting the CLW's report. According to TMZ, mom/manager Kris Jenner plans to sue the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, whose director specifically called out the Kardashians for using sweatshop labor (although he didn't conduct the investigation himself).
"As far as I know, the factories that are used to manufacture the Kardashian clothing and shoes have nothing terrible going on at all," Kris Jenner told TMZ. "The factories are very well policed and meet factory standards."
A spokesperson for the family tells the New York Daily News that the Kardashians "take this situation very seriously" and will continue to "investigate the matter." The rep notes that the Kardashians "have been assured by all of their manufacturers that the factories are policed regularly and there is no truth to these allegations."
In fairness to the Kardashian family, the use of foreign sweatshop labor is extremely common among American companies. Because the Kardashians and other retailers are so far removed from the actual manufacturing of their products, it's tragically easy for them to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses. At least Kris, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe have vowed to take their business elsewhere if the allegations are true.
"If there is any evidence of an illegal operation, then they will cease work with that manufacturer immediately," says their rep.
In November of last year, the Kardashians were accused of marketing branded credit cards with predatory fees to teenage girls. They discontinued their association with the credit card company, which sued them for $75 million.