This blog has already discussed an opinion released by the U.S. Department of Labor on the definition of clothes. That opinion included the concept of a “principal activity”, defined as an activity which is “integral and indispensable” and activities occurring “after the first principal activity and before the last principal activity are compensable”.
Forever 21 might want to keep this in mind as it is beginning to look like bag checking could be considered a principal activity. While it is a standard practice in many retail stores to check employee bags before allowing them to leave in order to prevent theft, this can become an issue for the employees when it cuts into their breaks and post-shift hours.
Five employees of Forever 21 (four former, one current) have filed a class action in California against the company. They allege that waiting to have their bags checked could take ten minutes or more, making for significant time for which they were kept at the store without getting paid. This allegedly is a wide-spread practice within the company and so the class could potentially consist of thousands of Forever 21 employees from all over California.
The plaintiff’s lawyers are also asking the State of California to appoint them as private attorneys general so they may prosecute penalty claims on behalf of the state.
One of the plaintiff’s attorneys pointed out the susceptibility of these plaintiffs. “Sales associates at Forever 21 stores are often still in high school and under the age of 18 when they begin their employment. These young people are vulnerable and often do not understand their employment rights. This lawsuit is meant to give these young people a voice about how they were treated while employed by Forever 21 in California.”
The Chicago Overtime Law Center has a team of attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and who have successfully handled many large wage and hour disputes. Our Elgin and Aurora overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, as well as the laws that govern overtime cases. If you believe you are owed unpaid wages, contact one of our Chicago wage and hour attorneys by phone at (877) 990-4990, or through our online form.