Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

Schneiderman widens probe of ‘on-call’ retailers

May 18, 2016

As published in the Times Union on April 13, 2016.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has joined with the attorneys general of eight other states to probe the “on-call” practices of national retailers. Employees in on-call shifts must call in an hour or two before a scheduled shift to find out whether they have to work or not.

Regulations in New York state require that the employee on such a shift who isn’t needed be paid at least the minimum wage for four hours or the number of hours in the regular shift, whichever is less.

“Unpredictable work schedules take a toll on employees,”  a letter from the attorneys general to retailers states. “Without the security of a definite work schedule, workers who must be “on call” have difficulty making reliable childcare and elder-care arrangements, encounter obstacles in pursuing an education, and in general experience higher incidences of adverse health effects, overall stress, and strain on family life than workers who enjoy the stability of knowing their schedules reasonably in advance.”

The letters were sent to American Eagle, Aeropostale, Payless, Disney, Coach, PacSun, Forever 21, Vans, Justice Just for Girls, BCBG Maxazria, Tilly’s, Inc., David’s Tea, Zumiez, Uniglo, and Carter’s.

“Contrary to published reports, Forever 21 does not permit on-call scheduling nor do we have a company policy around doing so,” a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

Last year, after an inquiry by Schneiderman, brands including Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, J.Crew, Urban Outfitters, Pier 1 Imports, and L Brands (parent company of Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret) agreed to end their on-call practices.

Other states involved in the latest inquiry are California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.