The United States retail industry is a massive one responsible for close to $5 trillion in sales and employs over 15 million people according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether it’s large chains like Walmart or smaller stores in and around your neighborhood, millions of workers depend on the retail industry to support their families.
The jobs are physically demanding, stressful, and often thankless to many people that don’t know what it’s like to spend eight hours on your feet in crowded stores. However most retail workers are proud of their jobs and work incredibly hard to earn modest paychecks. Unfortunately sometimes another challenge of working in the retail industry is regularly having your labor rights taken away from you due to workers not being fully aware of them, or out of a fear of getting fired for speaking up.
In truth, there are many ways your retail employer can be taking advantage of you; and for most of them you probably aren’t even aware of it. Below are seven of the most common ways this can be happening to you without realizing it:
1) Being required to purchase clothing.
When you are required to purchase clothing for a job, that related work apparel can be considered a work uniform. If it’s a work uniform, this is not something you should be purchasing without proper compensation.
2) Being required to have your bag or coat checked while off the clock.
When you have to have your bag and coat checked entering and leaving a store, you should be receiving compensation for that time. Your time shouldn’t just be valued by yourself, it should also be respected by your employer.
3) Not having proper meal breaks during your shift.
If you work five hours, you should be receiving a meal break. If you work 3.5 hours to 4, you should be receiving a rest break. It’s up to the store to manage the flow of work, and that should done with respect to employee breaks.
4) Being required to call in to check if you have to work.
If you are not scheduled for work in advance and need to call in to your job to learn if whether or not you have to come in for a shift, you should be getting compensated for the time of that call. It may seem small and maybe not even a big deal, but it’s not right. Holding employers accountable for this practice is the only way to put an end to it, so don’t think this isn’t important.
5) Being asked to come in early to clean.
If you have been asked to come in early to clean or stock shelves, you should be getting compensated for that work. Even if you think you are just being helpful, this is not a proper labor practice and employers should know this.
6) Being asked to take items to another location.
If you have been asked to take a deposit to a bank or items to another location, not only should you be compensated for that time, but you should also be compensated for the mileage spent on the trip.
7) Being categorized as Exempt when you are a Store Manager.
If you are either a Store Manager or Assistant Store Manager and categorized as “exempt”, then should be given overtime and breaks for time spent doing tasks that shouldn’t be done by supervisors. Some of those tasks are stocking shelves or helping customers.
Without unions and trade associations to look after you, it’s easy to have your rights overlooked when you are a retail worker.