According to a recent news article from CNN Money, workers at a major department store chain have managed to avoid a strike when it seemed like the situation had turned hopeless in terms of reaching a deal with management.
Before we get to the actual dispute in this situation, much of the trouble stems from a shift from people shopping in so-called brick and mortar stores to online shopping with giants such as Amazon. There is no question that the retail market is changing, and that will mean big changes for the employers and employees at department stores. However, the changes go much further than that, as even the shopping malls that typically house these large anchor stores, as they are often called, are also closing as less people go out to the mall these days. This includes both shoppers and the kids that used to spend their free time at the mall. This trend is also related to technology, as teens and young adults now keep in contact via text messages and social media apps. They no longer need to go to places like the mall to speak with their friends.
One of the major problems for the workers in these stores was that they were being paid commission rather than a pure hourly wage. This was great for employees when people were coming into the store and buying things, but that has become less promising as the number of in-store shoppers has declined. To make matters worse, the employees were being asked to pull and prep items for in-store pickup for customers who made an online purchase, but they were not receiving a commission for those orders. In other words, with respect to that task, they were essentially working for free. This was okay when they were making good money on commission, but it did not help any longer.
Another issue was that these workers were being asked to leave their departments to help in other parts of the store and were missing out on sales. They were not making commission where they were being sent and were again basically working for free. This new four-year deal requires employees who do those tasks related to online orders be paid hourly while doing those tasks, so they will be able to stop working for free as they had been asked to do. Workers will also not be allowed to be moved if that move will likely cost them a sale.
As our Orange County employment lawyers have seen, some unscrupulous employers will do whatever they can to keep wages down while still trying to get as much work as possible out of their workforce. While this is not a good idea for workers, in some cases, what they are doing is allowed. However, if you feel that you are doing work and are not getting paid for that work, you should speak with an experienced employment attorney about your rights and whether you have a valid claim pertaining to a wage and hour dispute.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Workers at Bloomingdale’s flagship store narrowly avoid a strike, May 2, 2017, By Julia Horowitz, CNN Money
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