Polo Worker Challenges "Uniform" Policy

September 23, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Polo Ralph Lauren workers are suing their employer for a uniform policy that is eating up as much as a third of their paycheck.

According to the Associated Press, the complaint was filed by Toni Young for herself and other unnamed plaintiffs. It claims Ralph Lauren’s Polo retail stores require sales representatives to purchase and wear the retailer’s latest clothing.

The suit seeks to end the rule requiring employees to wear the company’s clothes and is seeking reimbursement of the money Young has spent on the garments.   The suit was filed last Wednesday in federal court.

“Captive Customers”

Calling the employees “captive customers,” Young’s attorney Patrick Kitchin said his client has spent more than $35,000 over five years on Polo clothing to meet the retailer’s uniform requirement, according to the AP.  

Young, a sales associate with Polo’s San Francisco store since 1997, makes approximately $22,000 a year, according to the report.

Head Start?

To help new employees meet its wardrobe requirement, Polo offers sales associates a wage advancement program, letting employees purchase Polo clothing with salary advances to be repaid over six months. The company also offers a small employee discount, Mr. Kitchin said.

A spokeswoman for Polo Ralph Lauren in New York said the company does not comment on pending litigation.