Money

Walmart Forces Employees to Buy New Uniform by Calling It 'Dress Code'

| by Michael Allen

Walmart recently introduced a new "dress code" for its employees, but the multibillion-dollar company isn't calling the new outfit requirements an "uniform."

Walmart claims that customers can't spot employees in its stores, even though employees wear Walmart name tags and often sport bright vests.

According to Walmart's new policy, store employees will now have to don black or khaki pants and a blue or white collared shirt.

Gawker reports that Walmart executive Barbara Simone told Walmart employees on a company website posting to get more information by going to Walmart.com/associatedresscode, which just happens to forward to a Walmart.com page where employees can buy the required "dress code" outfits from Walmart.

“Walmart employees are among the lowest paid in the entire country,” Judith Conti, of the National Employment Law Project, told Marketplace.org. “And Walmart is asking them to buy new clothes to wear at work.”

The specific wording that Walmart uses, "dress code" instead of "uniform," isn't an accident.

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“There’s a legal difference between a uniform and a dress code,” stated Reuel Schiller, of the UC Hastings Law School. "If the cost of the uniform will actually pull your wages below minimum wage for the week that you bought it, then under federal law that’s illegal."

Walmart didn't comment to Marketplace.org, but Gawker reports that several Walmart employees have complained about the new "dress code" on an anonymous Walmart website forum:

Now more money which I like many others just don’t have to buy clothes and a hot vest.

Every few months you guys dream up something new to torture the associates with.

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).

In 2013, President & CEO of Walmart Bill Simon claimed that over 475,000 Walmart employees made over $25,000, but since Walmart has about one million hourly workers, Simon's statement would strongly imply that about 525,000 Walmart employees earn less than $25,000.

Sources: Gawker, Marketplace.org, Walmart.com