As the holiday season approaches, Urban Outfitters is hoping that its employees are in the giving spirit.
Gawker pubslihed an email sent to full-time employees at URBN, Urban Outfitters’ parent company based in Philadelphia, asking them to work for free during five weekend days in October.
The email explains that October is the busiest month of the year for URBN (which houses Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Anthropologie), and therefore, URBN needs their help. According to the email, URBN wants these salaried employees to “volunteer” to “pick, pack, and prepare packages for shipment.”
The most bizarre part? URBN calls this a “team-building activity.”
Here’s the email in full, per Gawker:
Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2015 12:01 PM
Subject: A Call For URBN Volunteers!
A Call for URBN Volunteers!
URBN is seeking weekend volunteers to help out at our fulfillment center in Gap, PA. October will be the busiest month yet for the center, and we need additional helping hands to ensure the timely shipment of orders. As a volunteer, you will work side by side with your GFC colleagues to help pick, pack and ship orders for our wholesale and direct customers.
In addition to servicing the needs of our customers, it’s a great way to experience our fulfillment operations first hand. Get your co-workers together for a team building activity!
Who: Home Office URBN salaried employees
Where: URBN’s Fulfilment Center – 766 Brackbill Road, Gap, Pennsylvania 17527
What You’ll Be Doing: Pick, pack and prepare packages for shipment (please wear sneakers and comfortable clothing)
When: October 17, 18, 24, 25, and 31 Lunch will be provided
Two shifts each day: 9:00 AM — 3:00PM or 12:00 PM — 6:00 PM
(you can volunteer for one or multiple days)
Transportation: If needed, URBN will provide transportation to and from GFC (details provided after sign up)
How: Sign up using this link and we will be in touch with more details. Please do not show up without signing up.
The link for employees to sign up now leads to a page that says, “this survey is not accepting any additional responses at this time.” Perhaps URBN secured enough people willing to work for free.
Urban Outfitters is no stranger to provoking controversy. The retailer has sold offensive apparel such as a tapestry reminisicent of the Holocaust and a blood-stained Kent State sweatshirt, an insensitive tribute to the Kent State massacre in 1970. (The retailer apologised for the latter.) That’s just the short list of egregious apparel.
But what about controversy when it comes to how the company treats its employees?
Urban Outfitters is trying, to say the very least. The company recently put an end on-call scheduling, Fashionista reported this week. On-call scheduling is a controversial practice wherein hourly employees would have to set aside shifts to work without the guarantee of actually working said shifts.
And as it turns out, this isn’t so controversial after all — the “team-building” component is strong. Gawker received a comment from URBN stating that the employees are excited about helping out. The response reads:
“After successfully opening our new fulfillment center in June, we asked salaried employees at our home office to volunteer for shifts that would help support the new center through a busy month of October. Unsurprisingly, we received a tremendous response, including many of our senior management. Many hourly employees also offered to pitch in — an offer which we appreciated, but declined in order to ensure full compliance with all applicable labour laws and regulations. The dedication and commitment of URBN employees are second to none, and their response to this request is a testament to their solidarity and continued success.”
We reached out to Urban Outfitters as well, and will update when we hear back.
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