Retailers Due for an Undressing?

boznos law office naperville il

Retailers Due for an Undressing?

The scenario is familiar to many hourly workers who work in the retail industry – “We would like you to wear clothing at work which represents our brand so the customers can identify with it.” or “Our new line will be out soon and we’d like you to model it for the customers”. So, as the dutiful hourly employee, you plunk down your hard earned wages (or worse, have the cost of the clothing deducted from your paycheck as a “courtesy” provided by your employer) and walk out on the sales floor in your company’s finest fashion. If you don’t, you live in fear of the secret shopper who will certainly report your noncompliance with the dress code directive. As most retail employees are paid close to the minimum wage, does this policy run counter to the wage and hour laws? The answer may surprise you. A Resounding “YES”.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (29 USC 201 et seq.) and the Illinois Minimum Wage Act (820 ILCS 105 et seq.) are designed to establish minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

A spate of wage and hour collective and class actions against retailers such as Gap, Ralph Lauren Polo and Abercrombie & Fitch have found that these types of “mandated apparel” policies may run counter to the minimum wage laws. Under the applicable wage laws, if the required clothing purchases cause an employee to earn below the minimum wage, the employee MUST be reimbursed up to the level of the minimum wage.

For example, a retail employee who is paid $8.25 per hour (the minimum wage in Illinois) and works 30 hours per week would earn approximately $17,160 for the year. However, that same employee who is forced to buy the Company’s apparel spends $1,000.00 on that clothing throughout the year. The employer deducts the amount of the clothing from the employee’s paycheck to lessen the bite of the cost over time. The net effect is that the employee is really only earning $7.77 per hour, well below the minimum wage. This clearly violates the Illinois Minimum Wage Act and the employee may bring an action against the employer for the unpaid wages, which would also trigger exemplary damages as well as the payment of attorney’s fees.

If you believe you may fall into this category, please contact our office for help in enforcing your rights. Dressing for success doesn’t mean taking money out of your pocket! With over 30 years’ experience in advising employees on labor and employment issues, such as identity theft, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by the ever changing employment law landscape. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at www.boznoslawoffice.com/contact-us.

 

Share:

More Posts

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

Send Us A Message