Get the Facts

Frontline firmly believes that retail workers need to understand their rights in the workplace to be responsible and empowered employees. All career development courses held at Frontline begin with a know-your-rights workshop covering workers’ rights to breaks, maternity, sick, and family leave, unemployment benefits, minimum wages and overtime paid in a timely manner, and ability to organize.

Your Rights as a Retail Worker

Scheduling:

  • If you are sent home early from your shift, you must be paid at least four hours, even if you do not work for four hours.
  • You have the right to take up to 12 weeks unpaid job-protected leave to care for a new child, a sick family member, or your own illness.
  • You must be given a 30 minute break after 6 hours, and an extra 20 minute break for a shift starting before 11am and ending after 7pm.

Unemployment & Benefits:

  • You have the right to apply for Unemployment Insurance if you are laid off, fired, or have your hours significantly cut.
  • The maximum amount of weekly benefits you can receive is $405, and you can get benefits for up to 26 weeks.
  • If you’re denied unemployment benefits, you have the right to a hearing to appeal the decision. You must send a request letter within 30 days of the denial.
  • You have the right to workers compensation and disability compensation if you are injured, regardless of fault or immigration status.

Organizing:

  • You cannot be fired for asserting your rights or organizing your workplace.
  • You cannot be fired for being a member of the Center for Frontline Retail, or belonging to a union or union-affiliated organization.
  • You cannot be fired for speaking to the media about your workplace.

Discrimination:

  • It is illegal to discriminate based on race, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, and religion in New York State. In New York City, it is illegal to also discriminate based on gender identity or expression.
  • City law requires workplace accommodations during pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions: time off for prenatal appointments, extra bathroom breaks, light duty to avoid heavy lifting, and unpaid leave to recover from childbirth may all be included.

Wages:

  • New York State minimum wage is $9 per hour, and federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
  • You must receive the option of a paper check, and not just a payroll debit card, even if you do not have a bank account.
  • Your boss can’t deduct pay for loss of items or performance.
  • You must be paid time-and-a-half for working over 40 hours per week, and you must be paid an extra hour if you work over 10 hours per day.
  • You must be paid on time, which means within 7 days after the end of your work week.
  • If your commission pay for the week falls below the minimum wage per hour, your employer must pay you enough to meet the minimum wage and overtime every week.

Check out our factsheets for more facts and figures about the state of the retail industry.