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Thread: Commissioned Hair Stylist in CA - can employer require manual labor? California

  1. #1
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    Default Commissioned Hair Stylist in CA - can employer require manual labor? California

    I have a friend who is a hair stylist in California. She is paid on a commissioned basis; her employer takes a minimal fee off the top of her haircut price as a "product fee", then takes 55% of the remaining cost of the service, she gets 45%. Essentially, this employee is only earning money when there is a client in her chair getting a haircut.

    Now, because the employer is trying to save money on hourly staff, they are now trying to state that manual labor, including cleaning the salon and laundry, is "part of her job". When hired, the understanding was these services were to be provided per the employer taking 55% of the revenue generated for the service (plus the product fee).

    This work can only be done when the stylist does not have a client, therefore they are not being "paid" for this labor, as they earn no money if they have no clients. It seems to me that this employer is trying to have the best of both worlds; they classify this person as an "employee", require them to be at work for certain hours, and attempt to extort additional labor out of them. Then, they pay them only when there is a client in their chair - but don't allow them to leave if they have no clients, and require manual labor when they are not with a client. This seems wrong.

    Can the employer require this work? This was not the understanding at time of hire, but has come as a result of the employer trying to get someone to do this work without having to pay additional staff.

    This person may be being taken advantage of and needs to know what the legal boundaries are, please help!

  2. #2
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    If she is an employee, as long as her commissions exceed minimum wage and her overtime is paid, I don't see a problem with this.

    If she isn't an employee, she doesn't even get that protection.
    Megan E. Ross, Esq.
    Law Offices of Michael Tracy
    http://www.gotovertime.com

    Disclaimer: The above response is a general statement of the law and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It only assumes the facts that are stated in the message. The above response does not serve to form an attorney-client relationship.

  3. #3
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    Default follow up question...

    The stylist does not get paid overtime, ever. She is paid only when there is a client in her chair. If there is no client, she recieves no pay. The pay she recieves is per each paid haircut; it is not an hourly wage, it is commission only for services performed. The employer treats the employees as if they are salaried, they recieve one unpaid break a day for one hour, are often asked to come in for meetings where they are either "taken off the books" (which affects their ability to earn commission), or must come in early for the meetings, with no compensation for their time. Additionally, as these tasks (laundry, cleaning) were part of what the employer stated the stylist was to benefit from based on the employer's 55% cut of their earnings, this work was not required as part of the job. In this industry, my understanding is there are 2 types of arrangements, 1) "Renters" - these folks pay a flat fee and are responsible for everything related to the services they perform, laundry, cleaning, product, their clients, generating business, etc.; however, they take home 100% of the business they generate or 2) "Employees" - these folks get paid a portion of whatever they do, in exchange for the employer providing more than just a chair and space; the employer provides marketing support, laundry and cleaning, booking services, etc. This is what I saw as the employer trying to "have the best of both worlds"; as part of their arrangement, these tasks are to be done by the salon owner because they take 55% of the earnings, but now the owner is trying to treat the employee like a "renter" when it suits their purposes, and like an "employee" when they need to schedule a meeting an don't want to pay anyone for attending. Does this make a difference in your answer?

  4. #4
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    I guess my answer wasn't clear. She had to do what her employer wants her to do, or risk getting fired. If she doesn't like her job duties, her recourse is to quit.

    Being paid on a straight commission basis is perfectly legal. It is legal to make commission only employees perform tasks that do not generate commissions as well, as long as they make at least minimum wage for each pay period.

    If she is not getting paid for the overtime she works, she should file a claim with the DLSE.
    Megan E. Ross, Esq.
    Law Offices of Michael Tracy
    http://www.gotovertime.com

    Disclaimer: The above response is a general statement of the law and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It only assumes the facts that are stated in the message. The above response does not serve to form an attorney-client relationship.

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