If you were asked to name a few chains, restaurants, or business that required their employees to wear uniforms, chances are several brands would come to mind. In various sectors, whether it be the hospitality industry or fast food chains, employees’ outfits identify them to clientele in need of assistance and serve advertising purposes. For example, one can easily imagine this unfortunate red-and-yellow waitressing ensemble that Caroline and Max on Two Broke Girls sport. Most of the time, the most extensive problems employees have with uniforms is being charged by the employer for a couple of ugly uniforms, such as the ones on the show.

Yet, employees in retail are being exploited far worse when it comes to uniforms, where the unofficial “uniform” is the store’s merchandise. Employees must repeatedly purchase expensive, on-trend clothing. When retail employees do not comply with these formal or informal policies, they face intimidation and lack of income.

The Revolution In Retail Uniform Policy

In retail, where company merchandise is supposed to be on-brand, the cost for employees becomes outlandish. Abercrombie & Fitch, a company once chided for forcing minority employees to hide in jobs like stocking the backroom rather than working the sales floor, has been a top offender in terms of enforcing a uniform policy. Recently, here at Aiman-Smith & Marcy we represented a class-action suit “from approximately 62,000 Abercrombie & Fitch current and former employees [and argued] that employees were forced to purchase Abercrombie merchandise in order to work at the store.”

At Abercrombie & Fitch, the employees had a handbook that said they were not technically forced to purchase the store’s products to work there. However, employees on a massive scale experienced pressure to not only wear Abercrombie garb, but to keep up with each catalog during the sales cycle. The employees had to follow the store’s look policy, which was a strict dress code in itself about how to basically wear Abercrombie & Fitch clothing. If employees were not in compliance with the look policy, they were sent home or had hours cut. This led the way for employees who did not buy the constantly updating clothing to have job insecurity and get sent home for not wearing new clothing.

The Legality Of Uniform Reimbursement (Or, Lack Thereof)

While there are some federal laws that shape the discourse around uniforms, these laws do not cover much beyond prohibiting discriminatory uniforms and providing uniforms that properly fit disabled adults. These guidelines reflect some of the structure pertaining to anti-discriminatory laws on the books. While these laws were groundbreaking and help protect workers, the rest of the states were left to further interpret and debate uniform reimbursement in state law.

The one bright point about federal law and uniforms is that if the deduction would make the worker’s pay minus the deduction fall below minimum wage, then the employer is required to pay for the uniform. Beyond that, it truly depends upon the state, with some states offering stricter policies about uniform reimbursement and others offering less. Luckily, California offers many protections for its working residents, such as the aforementioned Abercrombie & Fitch employees.

According to California’s Department of Human Relations team here, “If an employer requires that an employee wear a uniform, the employer must pay the cost of the uniform.” Based upon the state’s definition, a uniform entails “apparel and accessories of a distinctive design or color.” Therefore, Abercrombie was not following the letter or spirit of the law, when employees had to purchase garments at their own cost, and violated it continuously.

Here, at Aiman-Smith & Marcy, we handle employment law, consumer fraud, and class actions suits within the state of California. If you have questions or concerns about the misuse of uniforms in your workplace, please contact us today, or check out our blog for the latest issues in employment law. We can discuss your options and how to handles cases of employers exceeding their bounds.

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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