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From insensitive tapestries to ill-conceived sweatshirts, Urban Outfitters has had its share of PR flubs. But just when things at the Philadelphia-based retailer were looking up following the news that they were dropping their controversial on-call scheduling practices, a new headache has arrived.
It now appears that the hipster-friendly retailer is asking its employees for free labor — physical labor, specifically. Gawker first posted an email allegedly sent from URBN Inc. (Urban Outfitters’ parent company which also owns Free People, Anthropologie, Terrain and wedding line BHLDN) to salaried employees from the home office seeking “volunteers” to help “pick, pack and prepare orders for shipment” during the busy October season.
The weekend job, which is touted as a “team building” activity, offers only lunch and transportation to and from Gap, Pennsylvania fulfillment center as payment for the requested 6-hour shifts.
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Urban Outfitters released the following statement to Pret-a-Reporter:
After successfully opening our new fulfillment center in June, we asked salaried employees at our home office to volunteer for shifts that would help support the new center through a busy month of October. Unsurprisingly, we received a tremendous response, including many of our senior management. Many hourly employees also offered to pitch in – an offer which we appreciated, but declined in order to ensure full compliance with all applicable labor laws and regulations. The dedication and commitment of URBN employees are second to none, and their response to this request is a testament to their solidarity and continued success.
4:08 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7: Updated with a statement from Urban Outfitters.
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Tracee Ellis Ross