Texas workers who are required to wear uniforms on the job may be interested to learn that Disney employees will receive a settlement totaling $3.8 million in a dispute related to costumes. According to a Department of Labor investigation, two Disney resorts violated overtime pay, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. One of Disney's violations was that in requiring employees to purchase costumes, the pay to those employees dropped below minimum wage.
More than 16,000 workers in Florida will receive back pay as a result of the settlement. According to one attorney, the company might have committed even more violations if those resorts were located in other states.
At a federal level, the cost of uniforms cannot result in an employee being paid less than minimum wage. With the same caveat, businesses can also charge employees for cleaning uniforms. However, state laws vary. For example, in California, employees cannot be required to buy their uniforms at all.
In other states, it is permissible for an employer to deduct the cost of a uniform if it drops the employee below minimum wage but only in very limited circumstances. The uniform must be one that is not required for the job and one that the employee can wear in other situations. Therefore, if the company had been located in one of those states, it would still have been held responsible since these conditions did not apply to the Disney costumes.
Unfortunately, employees may be unaware of their rights regarding wages, overtime pay, and costs. Employers might be as well or might try to retaliate against an employee who pursues fair pay. Employees in such a situation might want to talk to an attorney about their rights and how they should proceed.