Abercrombie Settles California Lawsuit Regarding Shift-Reporting
Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Co. has settled a lawsuit for $9.6 million and is set to pay approximately 61,5000 California employees back wages. In the state of California, employees who report to a shift but are ultimately sent home because business is slow are still eligible to receive pay for their time. The law indicates that an employer must compensate the individual, yet Abercrombie tried to solve this problem by having employees call before they came in. Sometimes they were told by a manager to physically report to work and later sent back home. What remains unclear is whether requiring employees to call in is the same as requiring them to report.
In 2017, Victoria’s Secret settled a shift call-in lawsuit for $12 million. The allegations were brought forth by a California employee back in 2014, Mayra Casas, who said call-in shifts “required them to mold their lives around the possibility that might have the chance to work more hours.” She also said it limited them from being able to schedule personal plans ahead of time because they never knew when they needed to be in the store.
The state law requires employees calling in to receive pay equivalent to have of the shift’s rate even if they don’t end up working or equal to two hours of work if the employee is called in for less than one hour. Therefore, the circumstances of the Victoria’s Secret settlement opens the door for Abercrombie to be further scrutinized for its call-in procedures. Both are relatively the same. Other pieces of the Victoria’s Secret case, including allegations that employees should have been paid for time spent waiting for their superiors to lock up the stores, were eventually dropped. However, this stipulation could also be brought up amid litigation against Abercrombie.
This is not the first time A&F has been in a California court. In fact, it has settled more than one case in its heyday regarding a variety of issues, including everything from a “looks policy” to working salaried employees longer than documented shifts without compensation. In 2016, oddly, relatively the same number of employees (62,000) were certified as a class and sought to be paid for their employer supposedly bypassing required rest breaks in addition to violating other state labor laws, including instilling a policy stating employees must wear its branded clothing during their shifts.
The current case took years of discovery and negotiations to reach settlement. Eventually, however, the required clothing portion was dropped from the lawsuit, and Abercrombie agreed on a final number. It should be noted that the clothing giant recently offered to pay $25 million in another settlement originally filed in California, then transferred to Ohio which involved 250,000 former and current employees claiming the company had been forcing workers to purchase its clothing. The case involved A&F, Hollister, and other affiliates. Workers alleged they were forced to buy and wear clothing from their stores during a shift, sometimes just slightly discounted, thus dropped their overall compensation below minimum wage. The company denied these claims. And, round and round we go…