Consumer Fraud

On-call employment class action alleges wage theft in retail sales industry

money On call employment class action alleges wage theft in retail sales industryWhat’s one thing that some part-time Victoria’s Secret employees have in common with doctors, police officers and emergency responders? They’re all required to work “on-call” shifts, except the on-call Victoria’s Secret employees aren’t compensated fairly for the unpredictable scheduling. An on-call employment class-action lawsuit may change soon that.

According to BuzzFeed News, the lawsuit against Victoria’s Secret claims that workers should be properly compensated for on-call shifts, even if their shift is cancelled, since they’re required to call in at least two hours beforehand and be available between those hours. As a result of this unpredictability, on-call workers are unable to accurately schedule childcare, appointments and other part-time shifts. Their time is tied up, but they will not get paid if they’re not called in to work that day.

Mayra Casas, the former Victoria’s Secret sales clerk responsible for filing the suit, worked for the women’s lingerie chain in mid-2010 and learned that the company regularly scheduled “mandatory on-call shifts” for approximately 15 to 20 hours a week. While on-call employees may be scheduled for more than 30 hours of work across five days straight, they may be called in to work just 10 of those 30 hours, leaving a minimum wage worker with a $90 paycheck instead of $270. Considering Casas was also juggling another part-time job, the policies from Victoria’s Secret appeared to be unethical, so she contacted attorneys with Marlin & Saltzman to explore her options.

“You lose an enormous amount of personal autonomy,” said David Leimbach, a lawyer representing Victoria’s Secret workers subject to the company’s on-call employment practices. The attorneys hope to apply to these cases an existing California law that requires employers to compensate workers who “report for work” but aren’t allowed to work at least half their schedule. Since on-call employees must essentially report for work by phone, the current law needs further clarification as to whether it includes on-call employment, the attorneys contend.

At the same time the California case is pending, there is a broad inquiry into the “on-call” practice. Other retailers with on-call employment practices, such as Urban Outfitters, Bath & Body Works, J. Crew and Sears, have been mailed letters from the New York State Attorney General’s Office labor bureau, which is investigating the scheduling practices. This investigation involves 13 retailers and the 27 national chains they operate, affecting more than 16,000 stores. Once the investigation has been completed, the office has the power to require all employers, including Victoria’s Secret, to compensate on-call employees.

BuzzFeed News