MANHATTAN — Discount women's fashion chain Forever 21's Times Square location endangered its employees by blocking emergency exits with clothing racks and leaving shatter-prone fluorescent bulbs exposed, federal investigators found.
For the second year in a row, the chain's location at 1540 Broadway between 44th and 45th streets, as well as another site in Paramus, N.J., was found to have run a hazardous workplace, prompting the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to suggest fines of $236,500, the department said in a Tuesday statement.
Both stores were inspected in July after a worker filed a complaint.
“It is unacceptable for Forever 21 to continue repeating these violations, which are common among retailers, and put workers at serious risk,” Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York, said in a statement. “Retail managers have a legal responsibility to inspect their stores, identify potential hazards and quickly eliminate them to ensure worker safety and health.”
Investigators found similar conditions in the chain's Paramus store, where there were obstructed exits, an improperly mounted fire extinguisher, store material not being secured against sliding or collapse and unprotected fluorescent lights, according to the Department of Labor.
The company has 15 days to comply, meet with an OSHA area director or contest the penalties.
Forever 21 did not respond to an immediate request for comment.