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'Tis the season for retail wage violations

This time of year, retailers hire seasonal and temporary workers to help with the holiday rushes. The holidays are the time of year that can either make or break a company for the year. Holiday workers assist retailers with the increase in consumer traffic and boost the company's overall bottom line. Seasonal workers, such as yourself or someone you know, are entitled to receive proper compensation regardless of the temporary nature of their work.

The United States Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division oversees minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and child labor. The Division also enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Wage and Hour Division protects over 135 million workers nationally. The FLSA requires employers to pay employees at least the minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay for all hours the employee works over 40 in a work week. 

The most common labor violations

Regardless of whether you are full-time, part-time, permanent or temporary, an employer is required to pay you appropriately. However, because of the holiday season rush, some employers violate these rules--some unintentionally and some intentionally. The most common labor violations during the holidays are:

  • Not paying employees for prepping or closing out the register.
  • Requiring workers to work through their breaks without pay.
  • Not paying overtime.

Corporations rely on low employment expenses to get them through the busy season. Regardless of whether a member of the workforce is seasonal or has worked at the company for years, everyone is vulnerable to wage and labor violations. The FLSA covers tipped employees as well. However, they are subject to some different rules.

Wage and Hour Division Investigations

The Wage and Hour Division investigates complaints made by employees. In a 2016 investigation, the Division uncovered back wages owed to over 14,600 workers in excess of $14.7 million dollars, which equates to approximately $1,000 per person.

The FLSA and the Wage and Hour Division rely on informed employees who can notify the organizations when employers are not in compliance with the labor and wage standards. You are less vulnerable to underpayment of wages or other violations if you know:

  • How weekend or night work is paid.
  • When overtime is due.
  • When raises in pay are required.
  • How vacation, sick, and holiday pay are calculated and when they are due.
  • When you are entitled to breaks and meal periods, including breaks for nursing mothers.
  • When you are due double time pay.

My employer owes me wages, now what?

The FSLA governs certain labor requirements; however, each state may have their own labor standard laws, including California, which add to or enhance what the FSLA and Wage and Hour Division already have in place. If you feel your employer has violated labor or wage standards, you can contact an attorney who is experienced with employment law in California to discuss your options. 

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