At Two Fashion Resale Warehouses, Workers Fear for Their Safety

“I can’t emphasize how stressful it is,” one employee said. “Mentally, it’s draining.”

“I think about it all the time, every time I leave the house,” another said. “Anyone can be carrying it.”

The RealReal has defended its decision to keep the warehouses open as a means to keep people employed.

Earlier this month, it considered a reduction in staff but decided against it; affected employees would have been left without a full month of health care benefits, the company said in its statement, and “unemployment payments now, before the stimulus,” would not be as high.

Workers have been told that if the New Jersey warehouses close, and the California warehouse does not reopen, there will be significant layoffs.

“We are very aware that a layoff would hurt you financially and that unemployment payments may not bridge the gap to cover your basic expenses,” the leadership team wrote in an email to staff on March 22. “However, if the business stays open, even at a reduced level, we can maneuver through these challenging times.”

The four warehouse employees The Times spoke with all said they’re not too worried about themselves getting sick on the job — they’re young and healthy, they reasoned. (While older people are more likely to die of the disease, 40 percent of hospitalizations are of people under 54.) They’re more concerned about bringing the virus home to their loved ones, including roommates and family members with underlying medical conditions.

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