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Tattoo shop; Commission labor laws Arizona

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  • Tattoo shop; Commission labor laws Arizona

    I work as a professional body piercer in a tattoo shop in Arizona. I am paid based on commission only. each employee is required to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, for a total of 72 hours every week with no overtime pay. I am expected to answer phones, greet customers, and clean the shop, along with my standard piercing duties. This is very common among all tattoo shops in Arizona, to be expected to work so many hours and only make the standard 50% commission with no hourly pay.

    There are some days when I will have no customers at all in a 12 hour day, meaning I make no money. yet I am still running the shop, cleaning, and selling body jewelry which I do not get a percentage of. A body piercer makes significantly less than a tattoo artist, so tattoo artists are far more compensated for the time spent at work. But there have been months where I make so little its hard for me to even pay my minuscule bills even though i am at work 72 hours a week, where people that work an hourly minimum wage job working half as many hours are doing far better than myself.

    At the end of each month I average about $2 an hour. My question is, is this legal? What are the laws about how many hours you can be expected to work when paid only in commission? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  • #2
    You are almost certainly non-exempt and while paying on commission is allowed, not paying you for entire days of work is not. You can file a claim for free with the DOL.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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    • #3
      wage claim information Arizona: http://www.ica.state.az.us/labor/labor_wagclm_main.aspx
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      • #4
        Agreed with the other two answers, but to be more specific based on what was said you should be paid the greater of minimum wage or commissions. Also overtime if/when applicable, although the 7(i) Retail/Service Establishment exception could possibly be in effect. Example. Bob works 40 hours this workweek (federal law does not care about hours worked in the day, just the workweek). Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr. That means Bob must be paid at least $290 for THIS workweek. Change the hours worked, you change the statutory pay requirements. Second caveat is that we are assuming that the worker is an employee subject to FLSA. Both are very reasonable assumptions, but if the "employer" is claiming that the worker is an "independent contractor" or an employee somehow not subject to FLSA, that is an additional set of hurdles to overcome. Point of fact the duties described such as answering phones would likely kill both issues all by it self.
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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        • #5
          thank you for responding so quickly!

          technically we are individually contracted. the way they view it is, as much money as we make for the company is how much we make. we are encouraged to work all the time because it greatly improves our odds of getting business and making more money, obviously.

          i am also paid in cash at the end of every day. i just take all of the cash made that day (from doing piercings, not from any other sales), divide it in half, give half to them and i walk away with the other. nothing is recorded or anything at all. thats just how most tattoo shops are. under the table. we are there to sell our skill, they just provide us a sterile environment to perform our craft, and reputation of the shop to help bring me more business.

          the problem is, there are so many shops popping up everywhere these days, that the business is just saturated. so im not planning on starting a lawsuit. i was honestly just curious if it as actually legal or not because i couldnt find anything anywhere already discussing it.

          so, in this situation with being individually contracted and making only commission at 50%, how many hours is a business allowed to require someone to work? are there any stipulations for this type of job that pays this way?

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          • #6
            The legal phrase is "independent contractor". The phrase you are using is legally meaningless, which is probably why it is being used. Short answer is that all "workers" are legally either "employees" or "independent contractors". They are basically saying that you are not an employee at all, but rather are some arm' length vendor. File a form SS-8 with IRS and let them decide.
            "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
            Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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