Everlane ended this week with several hundred fewer workers as it struggles to cope with the shutdown of its retail business over measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Although the California company has spent the last two weeks e-mailing customers about reduced prices for its brand, made up of casual basics, and striking a positive tone with employees, in the end it decided to layoff and furlough more than 200 workers, including retail and those operating backend functions.
A group of Everlane workers, non-store employees involved in customer experience online, had formed a union in December and wrote of the sudden layoffs on Twitter. The group claimed that “every member of our union committee was fired.” The union had not yet been recognized by company leadership, but they claimed to have only recently formalized a request for recognition.
“Anyone that showed public support of the union with a union slack avatar was fired,” the group wrote. “Everlane is using this pandemic as an excuse to gut our movement.”
The group also claimed that up until Thursday, concerned employees who had asked the company about layoffs were “told repeatedly no layoffs would occur.” As far as the customer experience employees are concerned, they claim to have reported for work Friday only to find themselves “locked out of their accounts with no explanation and subsequently fired with a single scripted call.” Now they say remaining full-time retail workers are being trained to handle customer experience needs.
“Everlane did not offer to scale back our hours, implement voluntary leave or try any other measure offered up by other companies that are hurting now,” the union added.
While some part-time and full-time retail staff have apparently been furloughed, meaning they could be brought back into their jobs, many others appear to have been simply let go with two weeks of severance.
A company representative could not be immediately reached for comment. This week, Everlane also declined to comment for a story on how retailers and brands operating in California and other states with strict measures around preventing the spread of the coronavirus were finding it difficult to continue operating online as stores have been forced to close. The company would only say that it was still able to fulfill online orders.
Everlane is not alone in its decision to layoff employees while the retail business has been severely affected by coronavirus measures. Retailers new and old have been making drastic cuts to staff and the National Retail Federation warned the White House before President Trump signed off on an unprecedented $2 trillion stimulus package that at least four million retail jobs will be lost this year.
According to a report in Vice, the company said it hopes “to build our team back as the company improves.”
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