Juice Couture is known for its expensive denim and its velour track suits. Jeans retail for upwards of $178 and handbags around $230. And yet! Employees at the company’s flagship store on 5th Avenue in NYC allege that the company is systematically trying to bilk employees out of hours and benefits. A petition started by employee Duane and former employee Darrell claims that the company has reduced all but a few employees to part time work. Now, they say, most of the store’s 128 employees are limited to less than 21 hours a week. That’s so they don’t have to offer health insurance to their workers — under the Affordable Health Care Act, employees who work 30 hours or more are eligible to receive health care benefits. Further, in order to qualify for sick days, Juicy says you must work more than 1400 per year, which is impossible on a 21-hour per week schedule.
“Darrell and I are just two of the full-time employees that have been forced out of Juicy Couture,” writes Duane on his Retail Action Project petition. “Now we’re speaking out on behalf of my coworkers who remain at the store, because we all deserve Just Hours.”
The Affordable Care Act requires that companies that employ at least 50 full-time workers must offer health insurance to staffers working at least 30 hours a week. Though it won’t go into effect until January 2014, many companies are already slashing their full-time employees’ hours in order to get around the requirements. It’ll also increase the number of “temporary” workers, who work on contracts that must be periodically renewed. And thanks to the crappy economy, it’s easier than ever for companies to find workers that will take a job — any job — regardless of benefits or hours.
Juicy Couture is hardly the only employer making the move toward a fully part-time staff (Kroger and several other businesses have also publicly stated that they will shift to a part-time structure in order to avoid paying for insurance), but they are one of the more ironic cases because they’re considered a luxury brand. And that’s exactly what Duane and Darrell are banking on.
“We know from experience that Juicy has loyal customers and dedicated employees — if enough of us speak out and demand Just Hours, they’ll have no choice but to act.” [Coworker]
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