By JOSH RUSSERTThe U.S. Department of Labor’s inspector general said Tuesday that the agency found widespread labor violations at the garment-manufacturing company Dickey Furniture in Bedford County, Ohio.
Dickey Furnitures is based in Bedford, a county north of Cleveland.
It was the largest company in the company’s supply chain and made garments for American companies like Walmart, Target and Walmart Supercenter.
The agency’s report, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, said Dickey employees made improper entry into a company computer system, falsified records and created false and misleading company documents.
It said the company failed to follow a code of conduct and required workers to follow certain policies and practices, including training, including a code for supervisors.
Dicky Furniture was placed on probation for more than two years in 2018, and a separate investigation is underway by the Ohio Department of Commerce and Industries, which regulates the company.
The two investigations are separate, but both are expected to continue.
Dick Dickey, who was chairman of the company from 2001 to 2015, told The Associated Press that the investigation is an attempt to get to the bottom of a case he said has been around for years.
“I have nothing but respect for the people that are doing this and I want to know why this was allowed to continue,” Dickey said.
“And to the people who were there, I want you to know that I’m truly sorry.”
The company said in a statement that it “remains committed to transparency and accountability.”
“We will not rest until the facts are clear,” it said.
The company’s chief executive officer, Steve Smith, said in the statement that he is “deeply troubled” by the inspector general’s findings.
He also said that the company has a “zero tolerance” policy for abuse of workers and that it has been cooperating with the investigation.
The report also said there are questions about the quality of the Dickey garments.
It noted that Dickey has made some garments that are not as high quality as other brands.
Smith said the report does not address how much labor was actually done.
He added that the Dicky Furnitures factories in Bedford and the neighboring Cleveland County region were inspected every year.
The Dickey investigation came after months of scrutiny by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which has been looking into the conditions in factories and the lack of protection workers face.
The council has launched a probe into the company in light of the inspector-general’s report.