Kathie Lee Gifford sent her sportscaster husband, Frank, to pay cash to sweatshop workers who complained they were underpaid for making blouses that carried her label.
"There's $300 in there, and I am really sorry," the former football great told a 32-year-old illegal immigrant, who sobbed as he gave her the money.Earlier Thursday, Kathie Lee Gifford said on her syndicated TV show "Live with Regis & Kathie Lee" that she had been "physically sick to my stomach" after learning that workers who made blouses for her Wal-Mart clothing line were underpaid.
Wal-Mart said the work had been subcontracted without the discount giant's knowledge, and it promised to reimburse Gifford the $9,000 in cash her husband brought to a garment union office.
"This is a Wal-Mart issue and not the responsibility of Kathie Lee Gifford," the company said.
Gifford has been accused of tolerating the use of cheap Third World labor to produce her clothing line. But it turned out the problem was much closer to home - in a sweatshop blocks from her TV studio.
Workers at Seo Fashions recently finished making 50,000 antique white, short-sleeved blouses with a button at the nape for Gifford's clothing line. The blouses sell for $9.96 at Wal-Mart.
Seo paid its workers below minimum wage and did not grant overtime, although the employees worked up to 60 hours a week, according to Karen Crowe, spokeswoman for the Union of Needle Trades, Industrial and Textile Employees.
The company was cited earlier this year and had to pay employees $2,000 in back wages, according to the federal Labor Department. A company official could not be located Thursday.
Frank Gifford said he and his wife found out about the situation on Wednesday night from a Daily News reporter.
The "NFL Monday Night Football" broadcaster said his wife was too ill to deliver the cash herself, so he brought it in 30 envelopes to the Seo workshop.