Retail Store Employees

The retail industry is the largest private sector employer in the United States. Retail store employees often work long hours and frequently deal with demanding customers. Without question, retail store employees deserve appreciation, fair treatment, and a fair wage for all of their hard work. Unfortunately, there are far too many instances where employees receive the opposite. Many retail store workers encounter unappreciative employers who pay unfair wages, overwork their employees, and violate their rights.


The United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission oversee compliance with the federal laws that govern retail store labor practices. Depending upon the size of the particular retail establishment, any number of federal provisions may apply to protect employees, including, but not limited to the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, among others. In addition, various state-specific guidelines may apply to protect employees.

While retailers should be aware of each of these laws and make all efforts to ensure compliance, violations of employee rights occur far too often.


Common violations committed by retail store employers include:

  • Refusing to pay overtime: As is the case in all industries, those who work overtime deserve to be lawfully compensated. Employees who work overtime are entitled to time and a half compensation, and withholding earned overtime is unlawful, unless their job duties meet certain narrow exemptions.
  • Taking illegal deductions: All too often, retail store employees are victims of unlawful deductions from their wages. Employers may attempt to deduct from employee wages required uniforms and the cost of other equipment necessary to do the job, as well as cash and merchandise shortages. This is a violation of the law, and employers can and should be held liable for penalties and other damages incurred in connection with these illegal deductions.
  • Engaging in behaviors that discriminate or create a hostile work environment: Everyone has the right to be respected at work regardless of age, race, religion, gender, orientation, marital status, or disabilities. No one should be subject to harassment or discrimination, and all workplaces should treat employees fairly. Unfortunately, there are too often occasions in the retail industry where this simply doesn't happen. If an employer takes actions that create a hostile working environment, an employee is entitled to seek protection under the law.
  • Refusing to pay employees for work-related tasks including training or work performed either before or after a shift: An employer must pay an employee for time spent performing work-related tasks, and this includes pre-shift preparation, after-shift cleanup, and training. The failure to do so is an actionable violation of the law.
  • Intentionally misclassifying employees: How an employee is classified has significant implications for their rights and economic security. In some cases, retailers may intentionally misclassify employees in an attempt to avoid paying minimum wage or overtime or to reap a tax benefit.

These are only a few common violations of many that are committed by employers against retail store employees. Those who are subjected to such violations can and should seek legal help.


At Outten & Golden, we have extensive experience representing retail store workers. We have successfully litigated cases against major retailers, as well as smaller companies who were violating employee rights.*

Our knowledgeable and experienced legal team is committed to protecting and defending the rights of retail store employees. If you are a retail store employee needing legal guidance regarding an employment issue, we're here to help. Please contact us to discuss your circumstances with a knowledgeable and experienced Outten & Golden attorney.

(*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.)