US clothing brands including J.
Crew, H&M and Calvin Klein are all under investigation by the US Department of Labor for their relationship with a Qatar-based garment factory that employed over 1,500 people, according to a report on Monday.
The investigation was launched after a worker filed a whistleblower complaint against the company.
The workers at the factory are now suing the company for the wage they were owed and alleged that the factory used slave labour and forced workers to do tasks they did not want to do, including cleaning, washing and maintaining clothing.
The allegations were made by a former garment worker who said that the clothes he and others were wearing were made without his consent, and that he was regularly denied permission to leave the factory.
“We are trying to help the workers and make sure they don’t have to worry about the clothes they wear,” J. Crew said in a statement.
“This investigation is part of our efforts to ensure that we are not making a false or misleading impression to our customers.
We will continue to work with the government of Qatar to make sure that workers are treated fairly and that the rights of all employees are protected.”
In addition to the allegations of slavery, the workers allege that they were required to work for up to 18 hours a day and were not paid for their work, according the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The company, known as Al Khaleej, is located in the southern port city of Doha, close to the capital Doha and is run by the Qatar Development Authority (QDA), which is headed by the emir of Qatar.
The QDA has not responded to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
In April, the US government suspended the QDA’s authority to operate the factory, citing the workers’ allegations of slave labour.