Employment & Labor

Sears Call-In Shifts Problem

Sears Call-In Shifts Problem

The New York Attorney General’s Office has recently launched an investigation which calls into question the practice of “on-call” or “call-in” shift scheduling, used by many nationwide retailers. When a retailer utilizes call-in shift scheduling, employees are typically required to hold their schedules open for shifts for which they may or may not be asked to work. This type of scheduling has become extremely common, which prompted the New York Attorney General’s labor bureau to send letters to 13 retailers that it believes may not have compensated workers for call-in shifts. Sears was allegedly among the companies targeted in the investigation. If you work, or have worked, for Sears, and have been scheduled for call-in shifts without receiving compensation, please contact us at 817-455-6822 or through the form on this page.


Sears is a chain of department stores that are usually located in shopping malls; however, the company also operates some freestanding stores. Sears stores are usually mutli-level and carry a variety of merchandise including apparel, household and hardware supplies. There are currently 926 full-size Sears stores within the U.S., and the company has nearly 200,000 employees.

It is reported that Sears is believed to be one of many nationwide retail chains that employ call-in shift scheduling to staff its sales floors. This type of scheduling allows retailers to minimize labor costs, but comes with a huge price to employees who receive no guarantee of work or pay.

Call-In Shifts’ Legality Called Into Question

Typically, when a retail employee’s shift takes the form of “call-in” work the company keeps the employee on the hook up until the time of the shift. Employees are unable to secure other paid work or take classes during the scheduled call-in shift because they must remain available in the event that they are needed at work. Further, many retailers reportedly do not compensate employees when shifts are canceled. Many states, including New York and California, have laws that require employers to pay hourly staff when they report to work and their shift is canceled; it is believed that the same protection should be extended when workers are scheduled on-call.

Additionally, some chains have strict attendance policies that accompany call-in shift scheduling. Employees who miss making a call in the window prior to a shift, or who do call but cannot make it to work on time, often receive the same punishment as someone who skips a regularly scheduled shift. “Call-in” shift scheduling has caused many problems for retail workers in the current economy. Many workers are employed in several part-time jobs, and are unable to schedule shifts when they are already on-call. The lack of predictability that comes with call-in shifts has become an unfortunate way of life in retail employment, but despite the frustration and lack of stability, most low-wage workers are unable to walk away from companies that schedule this way. For more on this wide-ranging investigation, click here and here.

Know Your Rights

Lawyers are currently researching class action claims against Sears stores, which are believed to have scheduled “call-in” shifts without compensating employees. If you or anyone you know has worked for Sears on call-in shifts without receiving compensation, please contact us at 817-455-6822 or through the form on this page. Contact our attorneys if you have any questions or concerns regarding this investigation.


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