Urban Outfitters is experiencing quite a bit of demand this month, and in order to keep up with the increasing number of orders, the retailer is asking its salaried employees to work on the weekends - for free.
The Philadelphia-based conglomerate URBN, which owns the store chain, as well as Free People and Anthropologie, sent out a company-wide email, which was obtained by Gawker, calling for 'volunteers' to help out at a one of its fulfillment centers during the workers' days off.
Presenting the extra, unpaid shifts as a 'team-building activity', the memo reads: '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.'
The email continues: '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!' the memo urges.
In return for their sacrificed weekends, employees are told that they will receive lunch and transportation, if necessary.
Here is the email sent to employees:
URBAN OUTFITTERS EMAIL TO EMPLOYEES
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.
Not surprisingly, the retailer's request has resulted in quite a bit of backlash against the company.
One Twitter user wrote: 'Urban Outfitters apparently thinks volunteering at Urban Outfitters is a great way to give back to the community.'
Another person called the memo memo 'appalling', while someone else said the company's executives were 'scumbags'.
URBN has since issued a statement regarding the controversy, telling Daily Mail Online that it received a 'tremendous response' from employees who were purportedly eager to help out.
The retailer added that many of its hourly workers also wanted to pitch in, but that the company was forced to decline 'in order to ensure full compliance with all applicable labor laws and regulations'.
Urban Outfitters has raised eyebrows on a number of occasions, including an incident last winter during which Jewish activists called out the retailer for selling a tapestry that resembled a Nazi concentration camp uniform forced upon male gay prisoners during the Holocaust.
However, it seemed like the company's wave of bad publicity was ebbing when it announced yesterday that it would end all on-call scheduling for its employees in New York.