7-Ways-Your-Retail-Employer-May-Be-Taking-Advantage-of-You.jpg (2149×1159)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.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us today or call us at (510)817-2711 to learn more about how we can help.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986