Walmart, the nation's largest retailer already under public scrutiny for its employee's wage and benefit packages, has made a shrewd move to get those same employees to pay for uniforms.
In August 2014, Walmart informed its employees the company was instituting a new dress code, requiring them to ditch their plain blue shirts for collared ones at their own expense. The company will provide new vests.
Under federal labor law, employers can’t make their workers buy uniforms with their own money if doing so would drop their wages below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Given that reports put sales workers’ pay at about $8.80 an hour, paying for new clothes out of that figure would likely bring their wages too low. (The company claims full-time workers make $12.78 an hour.)
So how did Walmart pull this off?
They simply employed a play on words. Under the language used by the company, the new clothes aren’t “uniforms.” Instead, they’re part of a new “dress code.”
Reuel Schiller, a law professor at UC Hastingsexplained it to NPR’s Marketplace.
“There’s a legal difference between a uniform and a dress code.” Walmart skirts the regulation about uniforms and is able to pass the cost on to workers by calling it a dress code rather than a uniform. It also gets around it by making employees buy clothes that they could conceivably wear elsewhere, not ones branded with a logo, for which it would otherwise be legally required to pay".What Walmart has done is initiated another expense for most of the employees that are struggling trying to make ends meet as it is. S2N Media can only see such a move by Walmart as simply mean spirited.