New York's attorney general has launched an official inquiry into 13 retailers to investigate alleged practices of keeping employees on call for shifts on short notice and violating the state requirement of paying hourly staff for at least four hours when they report for work.
Letters were sent to Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew, L. Brands, Burlington Coat Factory, TJX Companies, Urban Outfitters, Target, Sears, Williams-Sonoma, Crocs, Ann Inc., and J.C. Penney, reported the Associated Press.
"We have been informed that a number of companies in New York State utilize on-call shifts and require employees to report in some manner, whether by phone, text message or email, before the designated shift in order to learn whether their services are ultimately needed on site that day," Labor Bureau Chief Terri Gerstein wrote in the letter to the retailers. "We are examining this practice."
Gerstein went on to say that on-call employees have difficulty making reliable childcare and eldercare arrangements, encounter obstacles in pursing education, and in general experience higher incidences of adverse health effects.
The distributed letters request each retailer to provide the written policies outlining the on-call provisions for review by May 4. Computerized reports documenting the sample schedules for each calendar quarter in 2013-2014 that designate on-call shifts were also requested.
In addition, the retailers must report any payroll records where employees worked in New York and were paid for less than four hours.
The official order comes just after several of the named retailers announced their own policy changes intended to safeguard the rights of employees. For example, last month Target (NYSE:TGT) announced it would raise the minimum hourly wage to $9 an hour, and TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX), parent company of T.J. Maxx, Marshall's and Home Goods, made a similar promise to raise their minimum wage just a month prior.
-See this Associated Press article
Target raises minimum wage
Walmart, TJMaxx wage hikes affect consumer, worker perceptions differently
Walmart boosts minimum wage as earnings climb
Gap to open 40 stores in India
J.Crew leads in customer service