Gap Agrees to Settle Employee Clothing Dispute

January 31, 2005 ( - Gap Inc. has agreed to give California-based workers a total of $1.8 million in clothing vouchers in a settlement over the firm's alleged requirements of employees to wear proprietary apparel.

The proposed settlement would give around 55,000 current and former Gap and Banana Republic employees gift card worth between $40 and $240 at the stores, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The settlement would end a two-year lawsuit over charges that the retail giant violated California labor laws by forcing workers to wear clothing from the store. The settlement still needs the approval of Superior Court Judge James Warren.

This is not the first settlement reached regarding retail store’s common practice of requiring workers to wear the chain’s clothing. Abercrombie & Finch agreed in 2003 to pay $2.2 million in a settlement with California regulators over such charges (See Looking ‘Brand Appropriate’ at Apparel Retailers Leads to Lawsuits ).

Action is pending on a similar matter with Polo Ralph Lauren. In the action against Polo, Toni Young, 32, said she has spent more than $35,000 on Polo purchases since 1997 in order to satisfy alleged dress-code policies and keep her sales job at Polo’s Post Street store in San Francisco. Polo, in court documents, has denied allegations that its store employees are made to buy Polo-brand clothes in order to avoid being reprimanded or fired.

Even with the settlement, Gap is claiming that its policy does not violate state labor laws, since they did not force employees to specifically wear store clothing, but instead wanted them to look “brand appropriate”. It agreed to the settlement, according to the Chronicle, because of its “commitment to ensuring that our employment policies are clearly understood and consistently followed.”

The lawyers for the plaintiffs have asked for $400,000 in fees, and have set up a Web site – – to answer questions about settlement eligibility. The lead plaintiff in the case, Robert Boleyn, will receive $10,000.