More than a dozen people were sent to jail Wednesday for sending out an email to Nordstrom employees that said the company would not be selling its clothing line unless the company agreed to the retailer’s request for additional information about employees.
“This is an unprecedented threat that could have a negative impact on the entire business,” the email read.
The company said in a statement that it would “not be taking any actions to exclude Nordstrom from its online sales platform, including from social media,” as well as a similar threat to its mobile and e-commerce platforms.
Nordstrom has not yet responded to a request for comment from The Associated Press.
The email came hours after the retailer announced it would start selling clothes from the brand in limited quantities on Tuesday and that it was working with federal prosecutors to determine whether it could be held liable for its employees’ online posts.
The move came after a federal grand jury indicted two men on charges of using social media to threaten Nordstrom with jail time if it didn’t agree to provide the information.
Nordstrom employees are not allowed to make public statements that threaten retailers, the company said.
They are also prohibited from using social networking platforms to communicate with customers, the news release said.
A Nordstrom spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Wednesday.
The email also was sent to employees at several other retailers, including Target, Best Buy and Toys R Us.
The company has been trying to keep its customers happy for years, but the threat of criminal prosecution was unusual.
The federal government has taken a much harder stance on online threats, targeting online predators who have gone on the run, including convicted cyberstalking offenders.
The charges filed against the two men are still under investigation, but prosecutors said Wednesday they expect to issue a statement this week about whether there was enough evidence to prosecute.
Federal prosecutors said the employees threatened Nordstrom and the company had to comply with the order to provide information.
They said the message was sent after the men sent another email threatening the store.
The messages came after the federal government launched a crackdown on online hate speech in October, accusing the men of threatening retailers.
The two men pleaded not guilty and were released from prison.