When considering wage and hour violations, wage deductions for costumes or uniforms don't immediately come to mind. This type of employment law violation, however, is more common then you'd think.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently resolved a case involving improper paycheck deductions for uniforms and other expenses. A DOL investigation found that two Walt Disney Co. subsidies in Florida violated Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provisions pertaining to minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping. The company now owes $3.8 million in back pay to 16,339 employees of Disney Vacation Club Management Corp. and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. Inc.
This lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. illustrates how wage and hour laws can protect employees. In this situation, federal law prohibits payroll deductions from causing employees' salaries to fall below minimum wage. If this had not occurred, the costume/uniform deductions would have fallen within FLSA guidelines.
In addition to employee protections under FLSA, there are also state laws that can vary greatly. For example, in Florida payroll deductions for uniforms are allowed. In California, however, costs for uniforms are the employers' burden. The California Labor Code prohibits uniform deductions, and even "apparel and accessories of distinctive design and color" counts as a uniform.
If you feel you unfairly paid for a uniform, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced employment law attorney. You legal representative can assess your situation, guide you through the legal process and advocate for your rights every step of the way.