Target: Richard A. Hayne, Chairman, President and CEO, URBN, Inc.
Goal: Do not take advantage of employees by asking them to do unpaid “volunteer” work for the company.
Urban Outfitters is hiding behind the word “volunteer” in its attempt to get unpaid overtime out of its salaried employees this holiday season. The company has asked salaried employees to work on the weekends at a Pennsylvania fulfillment center. In order to avoid paying these employees for their time, Urban Outfitters cleverly inserted the word “volunteer” and phrase “team-building activity” into its email request. This action is an egregious attempt to ignore labor laws and get employees to work for free, and, unfortunately, Urban Outfitters can do this.
Salaried employees are not entitled to overtime pay by law. Further, if the employees “volunteer” their time, Urban Outfitters is in no way legally obligated to pay them for the weekend hours they work in Pennsylvania. The company is asking salaried employees to work six-hour shifts and will give them a free lunch and a ride to and from the fulfillment center. Proof that the company is reverting to the days when labor law didn’t exist, it declined volunteer offers from hourly employees “in order to ensure full compliance with applicable labor laws.”
It certainly appears that Urban Outfitters likes to find ways to skirt the important laws put in place to protect America’s workforce. It also recently ended what it called “on-call scheduling,” which required workers to come in for a shift on short notice. Let’s end Urban Outfitters’ subtle employee abuse and demand it rescind its solicitation of free labor during the holiday season.
Dear Mr. Hayne,
I was shocked to read that URBN, Inc. is soliciting free labor from its salaried employees this upcoming holiday season. While I certainly understand the increased demand during the holiday rush, there is no excuse for a company to ask its employees to work for no pay. Labor laws were put into place for this very reason. Employee abuse, even disguised as a “volunteer,” “team building” exercise is not acceptable under any circumstance. It is clear that you are hiding from the labor law behind this hullabaloo.
It is unfortunate that our labor laws prevent salaried employees from being paid overtime, but it is even more unfortunate that a company would take advantage of that, and this is what you are doing here. A free lunch and transportation is hardly compensation for taking employees away from their family, social and rest time during the weekend, and you should be ashamed of yourself for proposing such a thing.
I am writing to encourage you to rethink this volunteer opportunity. Instead of taking advantage of your employees during the holiday season–a season where your company undoubtedly makes quite a bit of money–why not show that you really aren’t Ebenezer Scrooge and pay your employees, even your salaried ones, for the overtime they will be working. It’s the right thing to do. Step up to the plate.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Minnaert