3 Ways Employers Violate Employee Rights During the Holidays

Office workers wearing festive hats

It is not uncommon for a business to change the way it operates for the holidays. The end of the year can mark a significant uptick in sales, and every company wants to get in front of the increase in profit opportunities. Extending store hours, for example, is a good way to get more customers through the doors of a retailer like Walmart or Target.

But while making some adjustments to business-as-usual for the holidays can be fine, it can also be problematic if those changes are actually akin to employment law violations.

Three Common Ways the Holidays Relate to Employee Rights Violations

Unpaid Overtime

If your employer is extending regular business hours and adding hours onto your own schedule because of it, make certain you are compensated for it fairly. Working more than 40 hours in a single workweek or more than 8 hours in a single workday entitles you to overtime pay, given you are not exempt due to your job description.

California allows your employer to force you to work overtime as needed, up to 72 hours in a single workweek, so don’t be surprised if you’re being scheduled for overtime during the holidays despite not asking for it. What you should do, though, is track your own time independently and double-check it against your paystub. Some dishonest or inattentive employers may miscalculate your holiday overtime hours and underpay you.

Holiday Pay Violations

California law does not require your employer to pay you more time for working on a recognized national holiday, like Christmas Day. The law also does not entitle you to get a holiday off automatically and for bonus compensation. However, it is common for employers to give holiday pay – usually at 1.5x the normal rate – to any employee working on a national or company holiday, as this keeps up company morale.

Yet, an employer might later be tempted to revert back California’s default rules and not give holiday pay, despite the employment contracts they offer to new hires promising it. Check your own employment contract now if you will be working on Christmas or New Year’s Day to determine if you should be expecting bonus holiday pay.

Wrongful Termination

Many employees enter the retail sector as seasonal hires to help out during the holidays. Some of the biggest companies and corporations in the country balloon their employee numbers during the holidays through seasonal work contracts. For the most part, the contract states the employee will be automatically “let go” when the contract expires unless the company decides to voluntarily offer them a part-time or full-time position afterward.

This language might not be in your employment contract if you were recently hired to lend a hand during the holiday rush. It is not terribly uncommon for employers to forget the details of their own seasonal work contracts and start laying people off at the end of the holidays, despite this possibly constituting wrongful termination.

Beware the Holiday Christmas Party

Is your employer planning on throwing a holiday party this year? As fun as it may be, you should also be on alert for workplace sexual harassment. Holiday parties are infamous among employment law firms for being the source of an abundance of sexual harassment claims. Apparently, something about the end of the year and eggnog can bring out the worst in people, especially bosses.

When faced with sexual harassment or discrimination at a company holiday party, do your best to get as much evidence of the harassment then and there. Connect with coworkers you trust who might have witnessed the incident to get their statements about it. You can even keep your phone handy to record video evidence in real-time. In a best-case scenario, though, you will only need your phone to record the fun festivities.

Are you worried your employer might violate your rights as an employee in California this holiday season? Are you confident they already did? Call (888) 796-4010 and speak with employment law Attorney Bill Marder of Polaris Law Group. Our law firm represents employees and workers just like you throughout all corners of California with more than a dozen offices throughout the state. See if we can help you stand up for your rights by contacting us now.