Lululemon is launching an investigation into one of its overseas factories after a new report that alleges the workers there face physical and verbal abuse.
Female workers at a Bangladesh factory that produces clothes for the high-end athleisure wear brand alleged in a report published by The Guardian this week that they “faced physical violence and regular humiliation at the hands of their managers, who called them ‘whores’ and ‘sluts.'”
Lululemon told The Guardian that the company “immediately launched an investigation” into the workers’ claims after learning about them. “There are currently no orders planned for this factory, and we will take appropriate action based upon the findings of our investigation,” the spokesperson said.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a company spokesperson said that they “take these allegations very seriously and we are committed to a full, independent investigation.”
“Members of lululemon’s social responsibility and production team visited the factory in Bangladesh immediately to speak with workers and learn more,” the statement continued. “We will work with an independent non-profit third party to fully investigate the matter. While our production at this factory is extremely limited, we will ensure workers are protected from any form of abuse and are treated fairly.”
The laborers’ accounts range from females being called “prostitutes,” to being forced to work while sick, to being beaten on the job, according to the report.
“I was sick, so one day I left work at 5 p.m., but I informed the line supervisor. He told his bosses I left without telling anyone and the next day, when I went to work, the technician in charge of my line slapped me,” the unnamed worker told the outlet.
“He slapped me so hard my cheeks turned red and everyone asked me what happened. I couldn’t tell them the actual story. I just told them I had allergies,” she said, adding that she didn’t report the incident because she didn’t think anyone would care.
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“During last Ramadan, they created a new line and recruited new female workers,” a female worker told the outlet. “One day, a technician hit a label operator so hard on her chest. We could see she was in pain the whole day … She was lying in the back of the line for hours, but our bosses did nothing about her.”
A male worker told The Guardian that while he himself never experienced physical abuse, he witnessed both men and women at the factory getting beaten.
“They treat men badly too. Sometimes they beat male workers too. I never got beaten myself, but I have seen other people get beaten up,” he said, adding that he heard female workers getting called names like “whore,” “slut” and “prostitute.”
The workers that the outlet spoke to also described being overworked from being understaffed: “So workers have to work more. They can’t eat food or take rest properly which is very bad.”
The Guardian reported that “one girl who had jaundice reportedly granted time off by the medical team at the factory but told by her production manager she had to keep working.”
In its statement, Lululemon said that it is “committed to upholding ethical sourcing practices” and pointed out its Vendor Code of Ethics, which is “based on industry-recognized principles and standards,” per the Lululemon website.
“We don’t own our manufacturing facilities so we take great care selecting our manufacturing partners,” the website says. “Our approach is to build relationships with factories that are aligned with our values and meet our sourcing expectations.”
“A responsible supply chain starts with us and we are committed to upholding ethical sourcing practices globally. Our Vendor Code of Ethics consists of best in class industry standards,” the company’s statement said.
“We require that all vendors share our values and uphold a consistent set of policies that live up to our Code,” the statement continued. “We do not tolerate any violation of this Code. Upon learning of the reports about a facility in Bangladesh, we immediately launched an investigation. There are currently no orders planned for this factory, and we will take appropriate action based upon the findings of our investigation.”
The factory in question is owned by Youngone Corporation, The Guardian said. The corporation told the outlet that “it is fully committed to providing a working environment in all its facilities that is safe, fair and just,” and said that an “internal review” has been launched.
Youngone Corporation told PEOPLE that it is taking the allegations “very seriously,” and that it “is fully committed to providing a working environment in all our factories that is safe, fair and just.”
The corporation added that it has launched an “internal review,” as the “abuse allegations put forward would be a direct violation of our code.”
“Worker management communication is a very important aspect within our operation,” the statement said. “Every Youngone employee is encouraged to share their opinion or launch a complaint through multiple channels including counselors assigned to each and every production floor, suggestion boxes, workers committees, and a telephone hotline. We also conduct worker rights trainings in our factories and take surveys on a daily basis, striving to stay connected with our employees.”
“All complaints and grievances have been investigated in confidence, with no retaliation,” the statement continued. “Code violations, when found, have been addressed accordingly through disciplinary proceedings.”