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California Retail Workers Suffer On-call Abuse

— August 20, 2015

California retail workers are getting the shaft as many employers demand on-call/call-in scheduling. This heinous employment practice requires employees to either be available to work at a moment’s notice or call their bosses one to three hours before the start of a shift to see if they need to report for duty. These shifts are often cancelled and workers get no additional compensation for putting their lives on hold.

As if putting up with crabby customers and all the other abuses of working retail weren’t enough, California retail workers suffer on-call abuse. Authorities are investigating the unsavory practice of on-call/call-in scheduling, a practice that may violate hour and wage law.

What is on-call/call-in scheduling? Essentially, it is forced availability and a nasty way of making employees sacrifice their personal lives to their retail overlords. These work “schedules” aren’t even guarantees of actual working and getting paid. The practice involves policies that force employees to call the store manager anywhere from one to three hours before the start of a particular shift to find out if they need to show up for work that day. Other policies require that retail workers keep themselves available to be called into work even on days off. Both policies make it difficult, if not impossible, for retail employees to make plans for their time off work.

It’s a heinous, unfair practice especially given that retail workers don’t exactly make the type of wage that most on-call professions earn; some are barely above minimum wage. In addition, such practices may violate California labor laws.

Supporters of the policies argue that employees can always make plans once they know, in a call-in scenario, that they aren’t required to work that day. These supporters must live in a dream world, a là Star Trek, where everything is simply a button press away and no one has to worry about making a living.

On-call/call-in scheduling frequently results in employees being told they aren’t actually needed that day. Basically, they put their lives on hold for the opportunity that they may work. They do this without pay or any other form of compensation.

Here are a few examples of the burdens placed on retail workers by these onerous policies:

  • They cannot work for another employer because they can’t guarantee availability. Many retail workers must work more than one job in order to make ends meet.
  • Child and/or elder care arrangements become a living nightmare for employees faced with this type of scheduling. Such care is not available at the push of a button.
  • Healthcare becomes nigh unto impossible given that appointments must be made in advance. I certainly can’t pick up the phone and get a same-day appointment with my doctor for routine healthcare and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
  • Friends and family take a backseat to the job more so than in any other field, as retail workers can’t reliably make plans to see them.
  • Forget self-improvement, too. Retail workers who wish to go to college or take other classes cannot do so because they can’t always make it to class.

Warren_flexible_schedulesSome California retail workers are looking into filing suit, challenging the legality of these scheduling practices. If you’re a California retail worker saddled with this type of scheduling, you should look into your legal options.


California On-Call Lawsuit: Retail Worker Class Action Lawsuit Investigation

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