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American Apparel to Pay $1 Million to Settle Civil Suit Over Employee Death

American Apparel will pay out more than $1 million to settle a civil lawsuit over the death of an employee in a knitting machine accident in August 2011.

According to the office of the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA), the employee, Tuan Phan, was mangled and killed when he entered the knitting machine cage. The lawsuit said the machine had been turned off for maintenance, but was not locked-out as required, or disconnected from its power supply.

OCDA Kelly Roosevelt, said, “The machines are also required by law to be locked to prevent persons from entering and tagged to indicate that maintenance is being performed, also known as lock-out/tag-out procedures. Workers must be sufficiently trained to employ necessary precautions to avoid serious injury.” She added, “American Apparel failed to properly train its employees regarding safety procedures and failed to maintain a safe and healthy work environment.”

An American Apparel spokesperson said, “In August 2011, an American Apparel knitting machine operator died in a tragic industrial accident. While the company does not believe it violated any laws regarding worker safety, it has entered into an agreement with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to resolve civil citations issued by Cal-OSHA in a manner believed to be fair and that avoids the expense of protracted litigation. American Apparel has been and continues to be absolutely committed to providing its employees with a safe work place and fair wages in a sweat-shop free environment.”

Phan’s daughter will receive $150,000 from American Apparel. The company will pay over $566,000 in civil penalties, which will provide support for future investigation of California businesses and professions code law, and $283,000 to the California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety and Health to cover administrative and investigation costs.