The victims of the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse are looking for their day in court. Families and victims of the collapse that left over 1,230 dead and over 2,500 injured are seeking damages, filing a wrongful death lawsuit in D.C.’s District Court and calling out Walmart, J.C. Penney and The Children’s Place, saying that all three retailers failed to address the preventable problems that contributed to the disastrous collapse.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are asking for an undisclosed amount in compensation. They also want to require retailers to put into effect the kind of standards and oversight that should have been there in the first place, so as to eliminate the unfair labor practices and derelict working conditions that plague factories like Rana Plaza. The plaintiffs say that retailers often claim they didn’t know their orders were being subcontracted by the companies they hired to complete the order, but given the corruption in places like Bangladesh, they are merely turning a blind eye to the labor and human rights violations in order to produce cheap clothes. “Retailer defendants in the United States knew or should have known that the Bangladesh garment industry required significant oversight to ensure safe and healthy working conditions in garment factories, including oversight in relation to structural integrity of buildings,” the suit says. It also blames the Bangladesh government for neglected to do an adequate inspection of the building and ignored those workers and an inspector that did report serious structural issues.
The lawsuit says the retailers were fully aware that the building standards in Bangladesh at many factories are sketchy at best, and should have been diligent to make sure they weren’t working with factories whose structures weren’t up to par. It is their lack of oversight that contributed to the problem, a “foreseeable” problem which proved to be fatal for many garment workers. And judging from John Oliver’s excellent takedown of these fast fashion peddlers who find themselves again and again in these sorts of situations, we’re inclined to agree with the Rana Plaza victims.
Hopefully, through the process of the law, these victims and families can get some semblance of justice, not only for them but for future garment workers in the region.