Bobbi Best owns Blondies’ Bistro in Grants Pass, Oregon. In December 2015, a man named Martin Robinson applied for a cook’s position. In the restaurant industry, it is routine for job applicants to exhibit cooking proficiency in a “working interview.” As Best had routinely done with previous job candidates, she asked Robinson to sign a waiver in which he agreed to an unpaid working interview.
Signed Waivers of Acceptance Don’t Supersede Labor Regulations
Evidently, Best did not understand that Oregon labor laws call for payment of at least minimum wage for time spent in working interviews. At minimum wage, the working interview would have earned Robinson about $30. The following day, Robinson worked a standard shift but then rejected the job in a text message to Best. Best paid him approximately $60 for the regular shift.
Ignoring It Won’t Make It Go Away
Robinson took Best to court where she was ordered to pay a fine for the violation. Best didn’t pay the initial fine which compounded to $4,400 in the early spring of 2016. As of October 31, 2016, she had paid over $13,000 in legal fees but still owed over $21,000 to Robinson and his lawyer.
There are numerous lessons to be learned from this story:
1. Employers need to keep accurate, comprehensive records to protect themselves in case of a labor dispute. Accurately track employee hours for working interviews, training, and regular shifts with TimeWorksTouch from Your Payroll Department. Customize settings to reflect state and industry-specific provisions.
2. Be aware that an employee may exploit even a small infraction. Labor courts almost always favor the employee, even if they act quickly to make amends.
3. Gain an extensive understanding of state and federal labor standards, comply with them, and keep up with changes.
4. In the unfortunate event that you are fined, pay promptly before late penalties accumulate.
Are You at Risk?
Call 847.838.8888 today to see how TimeWorksTouch can guard you from a similar nightmare.
Based on an October 31, 2016 story written by Jeff Duewel for the Grants Pass Daily Courier, republished by the Medford, Oregon-based Mail Tribune. Jeff Duewel, “Working interview turns into nightmare for Grants Pass Bistro,” Mail Tribune, October 31, 2016, http://www.mailtribune.com/news/20161031/working-interview-turns-into-nightmare-for-grants-pass-bistro, accessed February 28, 2017.