Value Village: 1st Amendment shields us from state consumer-protection lawsuit

If you wanted to know how much Value Village is giving to charity from your donations, look no further than a graphic circulated on social media by the Washington Attorney General’s office. It reveals that the fancy piece of furniture you gave to the store’s donation center could be worth as little as 2 cents to the charity. That reality is far from the image the Bellevue-based chain has promoted, according to a lawsuit filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. He accuses the nation’s largest for-profit thrift-store chain of misrepresenting to the public the charitable benefits of their donations and purchases. In response to the attorney general’s lawsuit, Value Village has claimed that what it tells its donors and customers is covered under the free-speech protections of the First Amendment, citing U.S. Supreme Court rulings that charitable fundraising is a form of free speech.