In July, a proposed class action lawsuit was filed against the children’s clothing store The Children’s Place, Inc. The complaint states that the company knowingly sells clothing containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) despite knowing that these substances are harmful to children’s health. Specifically, the complaint alleges violations of Illinois’ Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, fraudulent concealment, breach of implied warranty, and unjust enrichment. The allegations are based on the company’s knowledge of the presence of PFAS in their school uniform products and their failure to disclose this fact in its labeling and advertising, knowing parents would not purchase or pay premium prices for the PFAS-containing products.
The Children’s Place products at issue in the case are school uniforms that meet the requirements of Chicago public and private schools. Plaintiff purchased a number of these items for her child. school uniform. The complaint states that none of the labeling for these items identified the presence of PFAS in the products, and therefore, Plaintiff concluded that PFAS were not present in any of the school uniform items she purchased. However, according to the complaint, independent third-party testing determined many of these school uniform items contained PFAS. Plaintiff additionally claims that the presence of PFAS in these items runs counter to the testing protocols reported in the Children’s Place’s Annual Environment, Social, and Governance Report. According to the report, the testing protocols help the company avoid unwanted chemical substances in its finished products and provide consumers with confidence that the products they purchase are safe.
The complaint cites to recent studies and reports on the presence of PFAS in children’s school uniforms, stating, “The presence of PFAS in school uniforms is particularly concerning, as uniforms are worn directly on the skin for upwards of eight hours per day, five days per week, by children, who are uniquely vulnerable to harmful chemicals. Due to children’s lower body weight and sensitive development, exposure to PFAS at a young age for prolonged periods of time may result in a greater lifetime threat of adverse health outcomes.” Plaintiff claims that because of the potential harm, she would not have purchased these products for her child had she been aware of the presence of PFAS.