Rhea Lana controversy continues

JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Rhea Lana's Consignment Show opens its doors at the Little Rock Expo on Sunday. But the sale known for good deals for parents comes to town under a cloud of controversy.

Both the Arkansas and U.S. Departments of Labor have investigated Rhea Lana Riner, but Riner insists her volunteers are pleased and haven't filed any complaints.

"It benefits them. You know, they are working together to create this marketplace and they want their items to sell," said Rhea Lana Riner.

Rolling into the Little Rock Expo twice a year, the sales offer an array of childrens' items at bargain prices.

Riner started selling clothes out of her living room 17 years ago. Now dozens of moms volunteer and sell their items during the week-long sales. Moms like Heather Cole.

"I look forward to it. The night before Rhea Lana's show is like Christmas Eve," Cole said.

Over the last two years, Rhea Lana's Franchise Systems, Incorporated has come under fire for violating labor standards. Representative Tim Griffin wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor, stating that any audit of Riner's business would cause undo harm to the consignment industry.

"It definitely feels like an overregulation, an overreach by the federal government," Riner said.

In August, the U.S. Dept. of Labor in August sent Riner a letter, saying Riner's volunteers are subject to receive pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The D.C. based "Cause of Action" organization filed a lawsuit against the Department Of Labor in January.

"We believe that our consignment volunteers should not be considered employees and so that's the bottom line issue," Riner said.

"I'm 100 percent happy with the way it is. I don't need to be paid," Cole said. "I feel like the opportunity to go and shop at the consignment sale is plenty of payment."

Now all Riner can do is wait to hear back from the U.S. Department of Labor.


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