[From iSource Business, July 2001] It's called the Kathie Lee factor. Kathie Lee Gifford is, of course, the television and recording personality made temporarily infamous in 1996 when it was disclosed that her signature line of Wal-Mart clothing was made, at least in part, by children working in factories in Central America. Since then her name has become synonymous not only with the horrible working conditions that remain endemic in much of the garment industry, but also with any public relations fiasco that ensues when an exploitative labor relationship is uncovered. To her credit, she has worked hard to raise awareness of these issues and, to a large extent, has succeeded.
Now companies, especially those vulnerable to public criticism and boycott, live in fear of the Kathie Lee factor. A consumer goods company, exposed as having purchased goods produced by sweatshop labor