VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

Disney's uniform problem

Apparently, the magic that Disney is known for transcends their amusement parks. Employees of the famed company found money not so magically disappearing via deductions in their paychecks.

The Department of Labor conducted an investigation that revealed two Florida-based Disney subsidiaries violated the minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Part of the DOL's examination uncovered that Disney paid less than minimum wage after payroll deductions for costume costs without permission from their employees.

The DOL made clear that, while commonplace in various industries, employers simply cannot deduct money from a workers' paycheck that put them below minimum wage. They must accurately track and pay for all hours, including time worked before and after their scheduled shifts.

As part of a settlement, Walt Disney Co. will pay $3.8 million. The money will provide back pay to 16,339 of their employees.

Florida employment law does allow employers to require workers to buy their own uniforms. Day laborers are exempt in certain situations. However, had Disney resorts been located in other states, federal law violations may have only been the beginning of their problems.

Kentucky does not prohibit an employer from requiring employees to purchase uniforms. Similar to other areas of the country, the state does require a written agreement between the employer and employee to authorize deductions for uniform costs.

For a company of any size, running afoul of the Labor Department can be costly in terms of both finances and reputations. Employers should know not only about federal laws, but also what can be more burdensome state statutes governing such important employment law matters.

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