Earlier this month, on-call employment came into question when one Victoria’s Secret employee filed a lawsuit stating that mandatory on-call shifts resulted in wage theft in the retail industry. According to BuzzFeed News, Victoria’s Secret has now put an end to its on-call scheduling practices.
On-call employment is a common practice still utilized by many employers, primarily in the retail industry, as a means of ensuring they have backup employees available if needed. However, since employees are required to call in at least two hours before their scheduled shift, and be available between those hours, on-call workers are unable to accurately schedule childcare, appointments and other part-time shifts. The worst part — they will not be paid if they’re not called in to work that day.
Victoria’s Secret staff told BuzzFeed News they recently were informed that the company will discontinue the practice of on-call scheduling, and now will be notifying employees if their upcoming shifts require “extensions,” asking them to work beyond their scheduled end time. Extra hours will also be provided to workers who request them.
Before the Victoria’s Secret policy reversal, former sales clerk Mayra Casas filed a lawsuit stating that the company’s on-call employment practices were unethical. Her suit stated that while on-call employees may be scheduled for more than 30 hours of work across five days straight, they may only be called in to work just 10 of those 30 hours. This would leave a minimum wage worker with a $90 paycheck instead of $270 – an enormous difference to someone trying to pay bills and keep a roof over their head.
Although the California on-call employment case was ultimately dismissed, attorneys were given the option to appeal the judge’s decision to a higher court for the determination of what “report for work” means under the state’s labor laws. Fortunately, the suit was successful in raising enough awareness to make Victoria’s Secret reverse its on-call employment policies without being forced.
Another factor that may have spurred Victoria’s Secret to change its policy is an announcement in April by New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman that his office is investigating the on-call employment practices. The investigation includes 13 retailers associated with 27 national chains believed to be using on-call employment. If the New York State Attorney General finds the retailers’ scheduling practices to be unethical, the office has the power to require all of the retailers to properly compensate on-call employees.