Wet Seal Controversy Storms Social Media

Think back to the glory days of your youth for a moment. It’s 2003 and you’re at a shopping mall with your BFF, arm and arm, scouring the glass displays for the perfect tube top to go with your “look”. It’s there that you see a familiar friend who has been there for you before in a time such as this:  Wet Seal.

Fast forward to today, and the brand we all love to hate and hate to love is once again in the forefront of our minds-but not in a good way. It appears the clothing retailer has come upon some major financial struggles. There is heavy speculation that the retailer may file for bankruptcy, and these rumors are being fueled by the closing of many of their locations. Though most of us would say, “who cares?” there is a losing party in all of this:  the employees. Apparently, at the stores that were abruptly closed, employees were not given more than a days notice and no severance pay. Most retailers give employees at least a 2 week notice if the store is shutting down to give them some time to find a new job. Not only that, but severance pay is standard in situations like this and extremely helpful and important to employees. However terrible this situation is for them, the (former) employees of Wet Seal aren’t letting corporate get away with it.

Many of the now severed employees have taken to social media to air their grievances. It started in Seattle’s North-gate Mall, where employees posted a sign asking shoppers to “#boycottwetseal” for giving them one day’s notice of the impending close, as well as not paying them for unused vacation time or allowing them to transfer to another location. Even more interestingly, the sign claims that Wet Seal’s CFO got a $95,000 raise. Quickly, as more stores learned of their abrupt closing signs began popping up all over the internet and the hashtag #forgetwetseal began trending on twitter. No spokesperson for the company has made a statement yet, but it probably wouldn’t matter if they did. There is no doubt that the retailer won’t be on the market for too much longer. While, Wet Seal could’ve been a fond memory of days past their blatant disrespect for their employees will make it hard for anyone to miss them.

Sign in Seattle’s North-gate Mall. Image from ryot.org

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