From Reddit: Walmart sure knows its customers.
From Reddit: Walmart sure knows its customers.
The “new look” calls for employees to wear a navy blue or a white polo shirt and khaki or black pants or skirts. It also requires the return of the Walmart vest, but the company will pay for that.
The new dress code and the employee backlash were first reported by Gawker.
At issue is whether the new rules about what employees can wear amount to a “uniform” or a “dress code.” The U.S. Department of Labor says companies must pay for a "uniform," but not clothes required to comply with a "dress code."
So is it legal for Walmart to require its employees to pay for a polo shirt and pants of a certain color?
According to one legal expert, Walmart employees who are unhappy about having to pay up may have an uphill battle. Federal Advocacy Coordinator at the National Employment Law Project, Judy Conti, told The Guardian that what Walmart is doing is legal.
“When an employer selects clothing you could wear anywhere else, they are not required to pay for it,” Conti said. “Black or khaki pants – it doesn’t come more basic than that. White or navy blue shirt: now, maybe you don’t wear white or maybe you don’t wear navy, but I’ll bet you wear one of them.”
Heidi Moore of The Guardian tells Yahoo Finance she thinks Walmart is asking too much of employees who already make too little.
“It is pretty much an egregious issue… it’s a huge chunk of their take-home pay and Walmart employees have been complaining for years - and even staging protests and walk-outs – that they are not paid enough, that they’re not paid a living wage.”
Walmart says its average full-time hourly wage in the United States is $12.92. The company says employees are free to buy the clothes anywhere, however, Walmart also has extended an offer for employees to buy the clothes from Walmart for a 10% discount. If employees buy dress-code appropriate clothes (2 shirts and 2 pairs of pants) from the company's own website, that would add up to abour $48, after the company discount of 10%, which Moore says is "tiny" compared to other retailers' discounts.
"If you work at any other store, whether it’s Macy’s (M) or Club Monaco, Urban Outfitters, you get 50% discounts, sometimes 60% discounts, so it’s also pretty chintzy on that front,” she said.
More From Huff Po:
Walmart workers are apparently not too happy about having Walmart tell them how to dress, and now labor activists are getting involved.
Richard Reynoso, a Walmart employee working in a southern California store, sent a letter to Walmart’s corporate headquarters on Monday, claiming that he couldn’t afford to comply with a new company dress code that takes effect on September 29. It was written on letterhead with the logo of OUR Walmart, a union-backed organization advocating for Walmart workers.
Under the new code, workers will have to a wear a collared blue or white shirt and black or khaki pants, along with a Walmart vest the company will provide. Employees can use clothes they already own or buy new clothes anywhere they want, but they have to pay for the shirts and pants out of their own pockets.
Reynoso wrote that he makes between $800 and $900 a month and asked the company to cover the cost of buying the new clothes he needs.
“The sad truth is that I do not have $50 laying around the house to spend on new uniform clothes just because Walmart suddenly decided to change its policy,” he wrote. “If I have to go out of pocket for these new clothes, I’m going to have to choose which bill to skip.”
Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg cautioned against giving too much weight to Reynoso's letter. He said the company decided to roll out the dress code in advance of the busy holiday season. Workers and customers had told the company that shoppers couldn’t distinguish between store employees and customers wearing blue T-shirts and khakis. Walmart had gotten "a lot of feedback" from workers, Lundberg said, but that most of it has been positive.
“We always want to hear from our associates, it makes us a better company," Lundberg wrote in an email to HuffPost. "I find it odd that this letter came from the Washington DC office of the UFCW and not from California, where the associate who signed it is from. I think that context helps most reasonable people better understand the letter.”
Reynoso's complaints echo those of Walmart workers in an internal forum, Gawker reported .
"With all due respect to the company, this is more of a financial burden to our family since this is our only source of income with my wife and two kids. We can hardly afford to live on my income now with us having to pay for a new uniform (aside from the vest). It's silly. The uniform we have now works. Why change it?" one worker wrote in the forum, according to Gawker.
Several employees also vented their frustration to Business Insider, including one who complained: "In the time I have been at Wal-Mart I have gone through four to five dress code changes. This one is by far the weakest and most pathetic attempt to gain customers back."
On Reddit, reaction to the dress code changes were mixed, with some commenters saying they looked forward to having more clothing options and others writing that it "sucks."
Workers can buy the new clothes they need at Walmart using their employee discount, the company noted in an internal announcement about the dress code leaked to Gawker by a Walmart employee.
“Walmart was very smart” in picking a new dress code for which it’s not legally required to foot the bill, according to Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project, a think tank focused on labor issues. Companies can force workers to shell out for clothes required for their jobs, as long as that clothing can be worn elsewhere, Conti said. Businesses are only legally required to pay for branded shirts and pants or clothes that are so outrageous they would be difficult to wear outside of work -- like a bright-orange shirt for example.
“There is nothing illegal here, it is not unprecedented, but is it really necessary?" Conti said. "It’s one more cost they’re asking the country’s lowest-wage workforce to absorb.”
She added that the company could go a long way in quelling the outrage by providing the clothes to workers free of charge. Walmart made $4.09 billion in profits last quarter.
Labor activists and workers have targeted Walmart in recent years for paying low wages and subjecting workers to erratic schedules with unreliable hours. Full-time Walmart workers make $12.92, on average, or nearly $27,000 a year, according to the company’s website. Advocates argue that most Walmart workers are making even less, given that the Walmart figure doesn’t include part-time workers.
A 2013 analysis from House Democrats found that one Walmart in Wisconsin costs taxpayers $900,000 a year because workers’ wages are so low that they have to rely on various public assistance programs.
Walmart has also been suffering from issues other than bad PR. The slow economic recovery, combined with cuts to government benefit programs, means that low-income Americans -- Walmart’s core customers -- have less money to spend. The retail giant is also facing competition online and from dollar stores and drug stores. The company’s U.S. sales have fallen in 12 of the past 20 quarters at stores open more than a year, according to Ken Perkins, the head of Retail Metrics, a retail data firm.
Once or twice, I've actually said, "Did you find everything you were looking for?" OF COURSE, you get a five minute rant about how WalMart "never" has what the person was looking for (but they still filled a cart, in spite of not wanting any of it....).
If the person actually tells me what they didn't find, I can usually tell them if we have it and where to find it. Of course, if I tell them we have it the next question is, "Can you have someone get it for me?" or something like that.
As cashiers, we're supposed to keep the lines moving, and when you ask questions that require any sort of explanation, that tends to slow things down. In the local Hell Mart, the express lane typically puts through 300 or more customers a shift and I pity any cashier who has to ask, "did you find everything you were looking for" that many times.
That's asking for a real slow down of service....
This story was originally posted on: April 23, 2010
Around a month ago, the Wal-Mart where I work, put up these little laminated signs on a part of the register that is constantly in the cashier's line of sight when they're facing the keyboard. On this sign are 3 new "phrases" we're supposed to actually say to a customer during the transaction.
--Did you find everything you were looking for?
--It was my pleasure to serve you.
--We look forward to seeing you again.
At first we were told that these were just there for those who don't normally engage and interact with the customer, so they'd have something to say.
From the instant I saw them, I balked, because there was no way in hell I was going to actually say any of them to the customer, as it set me up for the customer to get an attitude with me, and me not be able to say anything back. The second one would make it waaaay too easy for a CCOM (Creepy Crusty Old Man) to make some perverted joke at me.
Two weeks ago, corporate decided they should become mandatory. Our store manager even decided to use one of the registers to do a test run with each cashier to make sure they were using them.
Let's just say my turn didn't go so well. He wasn't happy to hear that the customers thought they sounded too scripted, and that I blatantly refused to use the second one because I didn't want my Irish temper to get crossed with a CCOM. One lady told me if she wanted to talk to a robot she'd go through the self checkout.
Thankfully I went to 3rd shift not long ago, and our CSM has said "Until I hear it from him personally that the phrases are mandatory, I'm not making you guys use them."
And erm, considering how little our store manager is actually "available", there are better chances of getting ice water in hell first.
More goodness and honesty at the Walmart Neighborhood Market!
A younger woman loaded grocery bags that I'd just rung up into an older woman's cart for her while waiting on her own mum who was next in line. I told the mom she had a very sweet daughter and she said she knew.
I guess I looked pretty feeble this day because on two different cart runs I was offered (and accepted) help pushing them into the store.
Someone said they got too much change from the self checkout. I was surprised that they noticed (a five instead of a one) and that they were so honest. I gave them verbal praise, which they shrugged off, like to say 'why wouldn't I be?'
And finally, at the slow end of the evening I walked past a self check as it spat out ten bucks and said in its robotic female voice 'please take your change from below the scanner.' And there was NO one around. So I grabbed the money and ran outside thinking it must have been the last couple to use it and they were probably in such a hurry they bolted before the slow machine kicked it out.
I ran up to them at their car saying here's your change! And they said "Nope! Not us." And showed me their receipt with no evidence of change or cash back.
I was just going to give it to them so I felt a little dumb when it wasn't theirs. But who? I asked one more possible suspects and then just turned it in to our customer service. Hopefully, the right person claims it, or if that self check is short, maybe it was a strange malfunction.
I have one coworker who might say it was a test to check my own honesty, but I'm not convinced of such conspiracies.
The other day while I was at Wal Fart, I saw someone parked not just in the handicapped space, but the painted area AROUND the handicapped space.
In fact, I see more stupidity in the Wal Fart parking lot than anywhere else. People driving the wrong way down the lanes... can they not see the big yellow arrow painted on the ground?
I can't count how many times that's happened, I give them as little space as possible to pass me. If they're gonna go the wrong way, I'm gonna make them work for it.
I've seen people parking in two spaces, people walking down the middle of the lane with no regard for the fact that cars are coming, people babysitting parking spaces while a line of cars formed behind them... I actually had this happen the other day, I saw the person that was loading their car had TWO FULL CARTS of groceries and the idiot in front of me was gonna sit there and wait until I started honking.
I've seen people not paying attention when they're backing out (and witnessed a car accident because of it), and so much more stupid behavior.
Everytime I go to Wal Fart I see something that makes my faith in humanity slip just a little more each day... then I come here, and can laugh at customer stupidity.
--Son Of Thrognar
Retail juggernaut Walmart maintains an internal website for employees only. There, Walmart workers are free to bitch anonymously to executives. Sometimes, these comments are leaked to us.
Walmart has instituted a new mandatory dress code for employees. Last month, Walmart HR executive Barbara Simone took to the internal website to explain the new dress code rules to employees, in an extremely cheery fashion. One Walmart employee was nice enough to send us Barbara's dress code posts, which are below. You'll notice that Walmart employees—who are notoriously low-paid, even though they work for the richest family in America—are required to purchase their own new uniforms.
For inexplicable reasons, Walmart employees are allowed to leave anonymous comments [correction: not anonymous on the WM site, but the names have been removed here] on internal postings like these. Below is a small sampling of a couple of days worth of employee comments on the dress code posts. They provide a good window into the opinions of workers who are mostly kept silent. The Walmart employee who sent us this information told us, "I believe Walmart is placing yet another financial burden upon the workers who have to now purchase a new wardrobe on our poverty wages. I do hope that media attention will cause the company to either set up a hardship fund to help us pay for this, or even better, do away with it all together. I believe these comments will give you and your readers great insight into the problems with this corporation."
WM Associate 29 Aug 2014
I sent an email to our wonderful new CEO because he said he was "listening" and wanted feedback well guess what? No one is listening to the associates or the customers for that matter not even him. Lets face it wal-mart is not a family anymore and they are not customer center. They don't care as song as they are collecting their paychecks and bonuses. We, the ones that do the physical work, will be the ones to continue to suffer and our poor customers. I used to absolutely love my job and now I pray every night that I can find another one and leave this one. I work 2 jobs Walmart is my part time job but I work these 2 jobs for a reason, to take care of my family. It is pretty bad that my full time job is a administrative assistant in a law office and I can wear jeans there, but I can't wear jeans in a grocery store. This whole mess is just non-sense.
WM Associate 29 Aug 2014
i have to agree with many of the negative comments I liked this company in the beginning but it seems they are out of touch with employees or there are to many "leaders"who really are not concerned with employees. In pharmacy we have had a light out for over a year, the heat is oppressive, we can not have water unless it is a small pointy paper cup with warm water from the sink. The counters are uncomfortably low and when ringing customers out causes so much back pain I personally have had customers comment at how uncomfortable the position we stand in to ring orders is. Now more money which I like many others just don't have to buy clothes and a hot vest. I understand that customers come first but I am a customer also and so are my friends and family. It is difficult to be great at your job when you feel so disregarded and expendable
WM Associate 29 Aug 2014
Management will be required to wear these vests as well right? Hmmmm
WM Associate 29 Aug 2014
barbara simone you've seen that 99.9% of the associates have an issue with the new dress code. too expensive too hot/cold doesn't address the problem uncomfortable to work in/not appropriate for some work etc when will you admit you and the big fish at walmart were wrong and scrap this busy work project that you and others are using to justify your big paychecks...every few months you guys dream up something new to torture the associates with...let us just get on with our work ...making you more money ... don't worry ...you'll still collect your big paychecks
I was an assistant manger for over 6 years until I was pushed to the point of stepping down ( and there was no resoluttion to the open door)!!! I know how hourly feel with no help and low pay scale and often there were unrealistic goals ( I can honestly relate)... I read a lot of the posts and we do need an affordable cost to the dress code cost of the shirts and pants. I have a sick husband and am the sole bread and bring home the bacon winner. Thank you and I really do love my new store!
WM Associate 29 Aug 2014
Ive been at Walmart 21 yrs and i tend to keep buying better quality clothing other than the standard polo for a better appearance at work and it seems like its a waste of my money to keep changing the dress code and we are not given any clothing allowance or given 2 shirts for free.
WM Associate 28 Aug 2014
Working conditions at my store are atrocious. There is little coverage in any dept. to provide anything close to decent customer service. CSS' at this store cover money center, run registers and many other tasks because the staffing/hours given to associates are mediocre- I am one of them. For ten years I gave my all but my efforts and voice are ignored. My complaints as well as other associates' seem to not matter one bit. Our registers and other equipment are slow and unreliable. I do not see how bringing back the vests as if we were living in 1994 will change anything. There are real problems to solve in our stores.
WM Associate 28 Aug 2014
With all due respect to the company, this is more of a financial burden to our family since this is our only source of income with my wife and two kids. We can hardly afford to live on my income now with us having to pay for a new uniform (aside from the vest). It's silly. The uniform we have now works. Why change it?
The dress code includes white or navy collared shirts with khaki or black pants, close-toed shoes and an updated royal blue Wal-Mart-branded vest. The company, which is covering the cost of only the vest, has compiled a list of acceptable garments on its website.
Wal-Mart human resources executive Barbara Simone informed employees of the new requirements, which take effect on Sept. 29, on an internal website.
Not everyone was upset about the changes, however.
Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg said employee feedback was important to the company.
"We always want to hear feedback from our associates — their ideas, their thoughts, their input," he said. "Hearing what's on their minds makes us a better company."
From Salt Lake Tribune:
Employees of Utah companies should not have to choose between self-defense and their job, an attorney for six fired Wal-Mart employees told the Utah Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Lorraine Brown, an attorney for the six who were fired after confrontations with shoplifting customers or another employee’s angry spouse, told the court that Utah workers sometimes had to confront a "terrible choice" of trying to ensure their own safety or keeping their jobs.
"No employee should be required to make this choice," Brown told the court.
The case arose out of Wal-Mart’s firing of the six for violating company policy that requires them to back away from confrontations where a suspected shoplifter or customer brandishes a weapon, then withdraw to a safe position and call law enforcement.
In a January 2011 incident at a Wal-Mart in Layton, three employees confronted a man who had put a laptop computer down his pants and escorted him to a security office. There, the man showed them a gun and, the employees claim, pushed it into one of their backs.
The three grabbed the gun away and pinned him against a wall before police arrived. They were fired because Wal-Mart said they should have allowed the man leave the office and not wrestled with him.
Two employees were fired at the Wal-Mart in West Valley City after an incident on Christmas Eve of 2010 when they grabbed a shoplifter who was attempting to run, and who then pulled a knife and threatened to stab them. Wal-Mart said the two should have backed away from the woman instead of grabbing her, though the employees say they had grabbed the woman before she brandished the knife.
In a third incident, also in 2010, an assistant store manager was fired from the Cedar Hills store after he was confronted by the husband of another employee who believed the two were having an affair. The assistant manager shoved the husband into some shelves after he had walked away pulling his wife by the arm.
The six dismissed employees sued in federal court, claiming Wal-Mart had implied they couldn’t be fired for such incidents if they went through extra training and that they had the right to defend themselves without risking their jobs.
U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled last year that the employees were at-will workers who could be fired under Utah law because they had no explicit contract with other guarantees. But Shelby asked the Utah Supreme Court to decide whether there is an exception in Utah’s employment laws for self-defense as a "legal right or privilege" for which employees cannot be fired.
An attorney for Wal-Mart, Kathleen Toth, said that by allowing that exception in Utah law "you take the decision away from Wal-Mart, away from the employer, and put it in the hands of the judiciary."
Several Utah Supreme Court justices objected to that characterization, saying there are lawsuits all the time over whether people were wrongfully fired and that public policy creates conditions that allow them to sue.
The justices vigorously questioned both sides and the arguments ran to nearly an hour, way beyond normal time limits.
Justice Thomas Lee said he found Brown’s statements, that the case is about a right to self-defense, an "overgeneralization."
"It doesn’t at all seem unreasonable to me for a large retail establishment to chose de-escalation rather than a stand-your-ground style of self-defense," he said.
Justice Christine Durham took on Toth’s argument that the judicial system should not interpret public policy so that it puts itself as arbiters of whether employees are entitled to a self-protection exception to state employment laws.
"I’m mystified by the notion that somehow Wal-Mart should get to be the final judge of whether the right to self-defense was necessary in a particular fact scenario," she said, pointing to other exceptions that lead to litigation.
The court took the matter under advisement.