Former Miss Ecuadar turned designer to the stars, Gabriela Cadena, has been accused of running a sweat shop in New York City. Cadena, whose designs have been worn by a number of high profile celebrities including Miranda Kerr and Carrie Underwood, has been named in a lawsuit, along with her father, Vidal Enrique Cadena Marin, brought by five former employees who claim she runs a sweatshop in New York and has failed to pay wages and overtime. They also claim that upon complaining they were not paid at all, the five employees, one of which was the company’s creative director, were fired. They seek back pay, front pay and damages for emotional distress for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Following her crowning as Miss Ecuador in 2000, Gabriela Cadena moved to New York and started her namesake clothing line, Cadena, and shows her collections at New York Fashion Week. Her father allegedly helps run the company although he is not “formally documented” as a director.
While the operation of sweatshops is known to to commonplace in countries like Bangladesh, we’ve seen more and more claims of sweatshop like conditions in the UK and USA in recent years. In 2012 Alexander Wang settled a $450 million lawsuit brought by thirty-two former employees who claimed that Wang’s factory was akin to a sweatshop with 16 hour days in poor conditions for little pay. The workers claimed to have worked 80 hour weeks in a windowless, 200-square-foot factory, and were fired after complaining about the conditions. In the UK a number of fashion companies have also been accused of abusing interns and forcing them to work in sweatshop like conditions. Many interns that we’ve spoken to regularly work 12 hour days, six days a week, even managing other members of staff and still do not get paid. Let’s hope to see more abused workers fighting back!